Russia warns it may scale up response to Biden’s statement





MOSCOW (AP) — A senior Russian lawmaker warned Thursday that Moscow would follow up on its move to recall its ambassador in Washington with other moves if the United States fails to offer an explanation and apology for President Joe Biden’s remarks.

In a television interview aired on Wednesday, Biden was asked whether he thought Putin is a killer and said “I do.”

Konstantin Kosachev, a deputy speaker of the upper house of Russian parliament, said Biden’s “boorish statement” marks a watershed.

“Such assessments are inadmissible for a statesman of his rank,” Kosachev said. “Such statements are unacceptable under any circumstances. They inevitably lead to a sharp exacerbation of our bilateral ties.”

Russia announced Wednesday it is recalling its ambassador to the United States for consultations. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blamed the U.S. for bringing bilateral ties to a “dead end,” adding that “we are interested in preventing their irreversible degradation, if the Americans are aware of the associated risks,” she added.

Commenting on the Russian move Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki emphasized that “we will be direct, we will speak out on areas where we have concerns, and it will certainly be, as the president said last night — certainly, the Russians will be held accountable for the actions that they have taken.”

The exchange of tough statements comes on the heels of a declassified report from the U.S. national intelligence director’s office that finds President Vladimir Putin authorized influence operations to help Donald Trump in last November’s presidential election.

“(Putin) will pay a price,” Biden said in the interview, asked about the declassified report.

In Moscow, Kosachev warned Thursday that Russia’s response wouldn’t be limited to recalling the Russian ambassador “if the American side fails to offer explanation and excuse.” He wouldn’t elaborate on what other action the Kremlin may take.