Russian Ambassador gives thumbs up as he leaves Russian Embassy

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov gives thumbs up as he leaves the embassy in Washington – days after being recalled to Moscow as Biden called Putin a ‘killer’

  • Anatoly Antonov was recalled for ‘consultations’ by the Kremlin, although the recall of ambassadors doesn’t spell doom for diplomatic relations
  • ‘He will pay a price,’ Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling him a ‘killer’ with no soul
  • In response, Putin wished Biden ‘good health’ in state TV interview 
  • Tensions appear to be ratcheting up between Russia and the United States 

Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov gave a thumbs up as he left the Russian Embassy in Washington on Saturday amid the war of words between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.

Antonov’s recall comes days after Biden referred to Russian president Vladimir Putin as a ‘killer’ and Russia recalled the ambassador in response.

The Kremlin labeled that comment as being ‘very bad’ before recalling Antonov for vague ‘consultations.’

‘The Russian ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, has been invited to come to Moscow for consultations conducted with the aim of analyzing what should be done and where to go in the context of ties with the United States,’ read a statement by Russia’s foreign ministry.

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov waves his hand as he leaves Russian Embassy on Saturday after being recalled to Moscow after Joe Biden called Vladimir Putin a ‘killer’

A masked Antonov gives a thumbs up as he leaves the embassy in Washington

Antonov has been recalled for ‘consultations’ and it’s unclear when he’ll be returning

‘He will pay a price,’ Biden said of Putin during an interview on Wednesday with ABC News host George Stephanopoulos, without offering specifics.

‘The price he’s going to pay, well, you’ll see shortly.’  

‘So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he is a killer?’ Stephanopoulos asked Biden during the interview.

He responded: ‘Uh-huh, I do.’

A bit earlier, the ABC anchor pointed out: ‘You said you know he doesn’t have a soul.’

‘I did say that to him, yes,’ the president affirmed.

‘And his response was, ‘We understand one another.’ I wasn’t being a wise guy. I was alone with him in his office. That’s how it came about,’ he described.

Biden made his comment after the U.S. Director of National Intelligence released a report that claimed Russian intelligence officials fed disinformation to Donald Trump allies about the Bidens during the 2020 campaign to influence the election.

Meanwhile, US officials said Biden’s relationship with Russia and Putin was due for a reset. 

Antonov, whose car is pictured leaving the embassy Saturday, will fly to Moscow to discuss relations between Russia and the United States

The recall of the ambassador is likely retaliation for Biden’s comments earlier this week

‘The president’s relationship and this administration’s relationship with the Russians will be very different from what we’ve seen over the last four years – and we’ve already seen evidence of that from his first phone call with President Putin,’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told DailyMail.com during a press briefing on Wednesday.

Former president Donald Trump was often believed by some to have a cozy relationship with Putin, and Russian election interference became a prominent story during both of Trump’s presidential campaigns.

Trump repeatedly praised Putin and denied allegations of election interference during their summit in Helsinki.  

A new assessment by U.S. intelligence recently laid out Russia’s campaign to influence the 2020 elections. 

More recently, on March 2, the Treasury Department slapped sanctions on officials as retaliation for the poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny with a chemical agent.

On August 20, 2020, Navalny was poisoned with a Novichock nerve agent. 

Navalny was flying into Moscow when he became extremely ill and was hospitalized in Omsk, Russia after his flight needed an emergency landing.  

The opposition leader was transferred to a hospital in Berlin, Germany two days later and wound up being hospitalized for more than a month. 

Russian prosecutors failed to open a criminal probe into Navalny’s poisoning.

Biden referred to Putin as a ‘killer’ during an ABC News interview on Wednesday

Navalny eventually returned to Russia, where he was convicted and sentenced, sparking nationwide protests.

The director of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the FSB, was affected by the sanctions.

On Wednesday the Commerce Department also said it was ratcheting up sanctions on some Russian exports in response to Navalany’s poisoning, relating specifically to aviation and space equipment.  

It tightened sanctions that were put in place following the 2018 poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer in Great Britain. 

‘He’s not going to hold back on his direct communications,’ Psaki said, ‘nor is he going to hold back publicly. And we have still found ways to work together on areas where we have mutual interests.’ 

Russia has stressed that it wants to avoid an ‘irreversible deterioration’ in relations between the two countries.

On Friday, Biden did attempt to add some goodwill in regard the relationship with Russia, saying to reporters that he will talk to Putin ‘at some point.’

The Russian president responded by offering to hold public talks via an online method like Zoom, with Biden and directing his foreign ministry to reach out to the Americans. 

Psaki responded to that by saying Biden is ‘quite busy.’

‘I would say that the president already had a conversation already with President Putin even as there are more world leaders that he has not yet engaged with,’ Psaki said, referencing a January call with Putin.

Meanwhile, Putin appeared on stage Thursday during a concert marking the seventh anniversary of Crimea annexation, which has been strongly condemned.

‘I would say to him: I wish you good health,’ Putin said of Biden on Russian TV. ‘I say that without irony and not as a joke.’

‘We always see in another person our own qualities and think that he is the same as us,’ Putin said.  

In the interview, he criticized Biden for America’s past atrocities, including the slaughter of Native Americans and slavery, and argued that has led to current racial tensions in the United States. 

Putin and the Kremlin did not take kindly to Biden’s comments, leading to a diplomatic rift

Psaki declined to comment on Putin’s comments to Russian state TV and what they might mean. 

‘I’ve been doing this long enough not to try to get in the mind of President Putin,’ Psaki, who served as a spokesperson in the State Department during the Obama administration, said.   

Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy chairman of parliament’s upper house, said Biden’s comments were unacceptable, would inevitably worsen already bad ties, and ended any hope in Moscow of a change of U.S. policy under a new U.S. administration.

He said Moscow’s recall of its ambassador was the only reasonable step to take in the circumstances.

‘I suspect it will not be the last one if no explanation or apology follows from the American side,’ Kosachyov said in a Facebook post.  

Even with the  drama between nuclear powers, recalling an ambassador doesn’t always mean a lot.

In 1988, Russia recalled its ambassadors to the U.S. and Great Britain to protest raids against Iraq. But it had little effect. 

‘Recalling an ambassador for consultations means absolutely nothing,’ said former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jack Matlock. ‘It’s just a gesture.’ he said as quoted in a lengthy thesis by Olivia McCaffrey: ‘Silent Statecraft: The Revocation of Ambassadors as a Diplomatic Tool.’  

Russia and Iran both sought to influence the 2020 election, but China ‘did not deploy’ efforts to interfere, according to a new report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.  

The Russians were responsible for ‘denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the U.S.,’ the report said, according to CNN. 

Iran, on the other hand, was working against Trump, the report said.

RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE IN THE 2020 ELECTION 

Here are some of the stories the Kremlin pushed:

– Corruption allegations against Biden’s son Hunter, claiming he had communicated with a Ukrainian official about meeting his father – who at the time was vice president. The report released Tuesday details that Derkach and Kilimnich ‘helped produce a documentary that aired on a US television network in late January 2020.’ Likely referencing conservative outlet One America News, which announced January 2020 a three-part documentary series called ‘The Ukraine Hoax: Impeachment, Biden Cash, and Mass Murder with guest host Michael Caputo.’

– Moscow engaged in ‘information laundering’ by launching a massive propaganda campaign where Russia-affiliated news websites created fake reports with the expectation the stories would be spread by more legitimate news outlets. Some were picked-up by large U.S. outlets, causing certain disinformation campaigns to go viral.

– Media narratives were also ‘heavily amplified’ by a slew of fake accounts on Facebook and Twitter – some run by bots – pushing disinformation. The DNI report indicates the message was pushed by ‘Russian state media, trolls, and online proxies, including those directed by Russian intelligence.’ The goal from these accounts was to amplify election-related content and stir up conspiracy theories, especially related to the COVID-19 pandemic and media censorship – hot topics in the U.S. political sphere.

– Hunter’s laptop scandal is one of the most notable instances of potential Russian influence in the 2020 elections – although it’s still unclear what is true and not. The New York Post released a story last year detailing the contents of Hunter Biden’s hard drive, which was supposedly left at a laptop repair shop and turned over by the owner to then Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. While the contents of the article are still a topic of debate, 50 former senior intelligence officials signed onto a letter claiming the story ‘has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.’

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