Russia criticizes US refusal to hold quick Putin-Biden call

In this photo made available on Sunday, March 21, 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin looks at a photographer in a taiga forest in Russia's Siberian region. Putin and Russia Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu are spending the weekend in Siberia, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik)

MOSCOW – The Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday that Washington has rejected President Vladimir Putin’s offer to arrange a quick public call with U.S. President Joe Biden to help defuse tensions raised by Biden's recent remark that the Russian leader was a killer.

“One more opportunity has been missed to find a way out of the deadlock in Russian-U.S. relations created through the fault of Washington," the ministry said in a statement, adding that "responsibility for this lies entirely with the United States.”

In an interview broadcast last Wednesday, Biden replied “I do” when asked if he thought Putin was a “killer.” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin’s subsequent offer to make the call public was intended to prevent Biden’s statement from inflicting irreparable damage to the already frayed ties between Russia and the United States.

Asked by reporters Friday if he’ll take Putin up on his offer to have a call, Biden said, “I’m sure we’ll talk at some point.”

Russia initially responded to Biden's comment by recalling its ambassador in Washington for consultations. During a public event on Thursday, Putin gave an “it-takes-one-to-know-one” response, pointing at the U.S. history of slavery, slaughtering Native Americans and the atomic bombing of Japan in World War II.

At the same time, Putin noted that Russia would still cooperate with the United States where and when it supports Moscow’s interests, and suggested that he and Biden have a call Friday or on Monday that would be broadcast.

In taking a tough stance on Russia, Biden has said the days of the U.S. “rolling over” to Putin are done. And he has taken pains to contrast his style with the approach of former President Donald Trump, who avoided direct confrontation with Putin and frequently spoke about the Russian leader with approval.

Last week, the U.S. national intelligence director’s office released a report finding that Putin authorized influence operations to help Trump’s reelection bid. The Biden administration warned that Russia would face sanctions soon over its attempt to influence the election and the massive SolarWinds hacks.

Russia’s relations with the United States and the European Union already had plunged to post-Cold War lows after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, meddling in elections, hacking attacks and, most recently, the jailing of Russia’s opposition leader Alexei Navalny after his poisoning, which he blamed on the Kremlin. Russian authorities rejected the accusations.