Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin will face consequences for leading efforts to shift the 2020 US presidential election to Donald Trump, and that they would come soon.
“He will pay a price,” Biden told ABC News in an interview that aired Wednesday morning.
When asked by Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos what the consequences would be, he said, “You’ll see it shortly.”
Biden’s comments come after a declassified US intelligence report on Tuesday reinforced long-standing allegations that Putin was behind Moscow’s electoral interference, proliferating “misleading or unsubstantiated accusations,” largely designed move to denigrate Joe Biden and push for Trump’s re-election, some fueled through Trump allies.
The assessment was contained in a 15-page report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Tuesday afternoon.
He underscored allegations that Trump’s allies played into Moscow’s hands by amplifying claims against Biden by Ukrainian figures with ties to Russia.
In a statement, the intelligence chairman of the Democratic House, Adam Schiff, said: “Through representatives, Russia carried out a successful intelligence operation that penetrated [Trump’s] inner circle.
Russia responded by calling its ambassador for consultations, but even as relations between the countries fell into crisis, Moscow stressed that it wanted to avoid an “irreversible deterioration” in relations.
“The main thing for us is to determine the ways in which the difficult Russian-American relations that Washington has led to a dead end in recent years could be rectified,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
In his interview, Biden also expressed hope that the United States can cooperate with Russia on issues such as gun control, and said that the United States and Russia can “walk and chew gum” at the same time.
“There are places where it is in our mutual interest to work together,” such as the renewal of the Start nuclear deal, he said.
By agreeing to a New Start pact (limiting each country’s deployed strategic arsenal to 1,550 warheads each), Biden and his close associates have signaled that they are interested in extending the treaty, and that would be technically feasible even in the very limited time remaining, as an extension. it only requires an exchange of notes between Washington and Moscow.
Russia has indicated that it is willing to extend, but the question of how long remains.
Biden’s team will also have to decide how to balance the New Start outreach with the desire to take a tougher line with Moscow on electoral interference in both 2016 and 2020, and other issues, particularly its recent cyberattacks on US institutions.
Kingston Reif, director of disarmament policy and threat reduction at the Arms Control Association, said: “Within the first 100 to 200 days of the administration, the United States and Russia should resume strategic stability talks that hopefully They would cover a wide range of topics and help set the stage for more formal negotiations. “
Biden noted the importance of him and Putin having a known history of friendship.
“I know him relatively well,” Biden said, adding that “the most important thing in dealing with foreign leaders in my experience … is just getting to know the other guy.”
Of Putin, Biden said he does not believe the Russian leader has a soul. Biden reiterated what was an old comment, saying in the ABC interview that in response to former Republican President George W. Bush’s comment that he had looked into Putin’s eyes and seen his soul, Biden had noticed at the time that he he had done the same and told the Russian president to his face that he thought he had no soul.
“I told you that, yes. And his response was ‘we understand each other,’ “Biden said, adding,” I wasn’t being a wise guy, I was alone with him in his office, that’s how it happened. “
When asked by Stephanopoulos if he thought Putin was a murderer, Biden replied in the affirmative: “Mmm hmm, yes I do.”
Meanwhile, Biden said it would be “difficult” for the United States to meet Trump’s May 1 deadline for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, but that a full withdrawal would not take much longer.
The deadline to end America’s longest war in six weeks was set by virtue of an agreement reached by Trump and the Taliban, without the acceptance of the Afghan government.
Biden said he was consulting with allies on the pace of the reduction. On meeting the May 1 deadline, he said “it could happen, but it’s difficult.” If the deadline is extended, he added, it will not be “much longer.”
Biden, like his predecessor, has vowed to end the nearly 20-year conflict and bring home more than 2,500 US troops to the country, up from 13,000 a year ago.
The Trump deal caught some American allies by surprise, as the roughly 7,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan depend on the United States for logistical and security support.
“That was not a very solidly negotiated settlement that the president, the former president, resolved,” Biden said in the interview.
He added: “We are in consultation with our allies, as well as with the government, and that decision is in process now.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism