Russian President Vladimir Putin says he’s not ready to recognise Joe Biden as president-elect.
A number of world leaders have already congratulated Biden on his victory in the US election, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, despite a gaffe in the message, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
While the Trump campaign continues to fight the results of the election and Biden prepares for his ascent to the White House, Putin remained quiet. However, he’s now spoken.
As reported by Bloomberg, Putin told a state TV station: ‘We will work with anyone who has the confidence of the American people.’
He added: ‘But that confidence can only be given to a candidate whose victory has been recognised by the opposing party, or after the results are confirmed in a legitimate, legal way.’
While other nations echoed one another’s well wishes and congratulations to Biden earlier this month, Putin decided not to partake, purely as a ‘formality’.
When asked if this could potentially harm US-Russia relations, the president was very candid in his response: ‘There’s nothing to damage, they’re already ruined.’
Prior to the election, federal authorities warned of foreign nations, particularly Russia, interfering in the election by spreading disinformation. However, considering Trump’s volume of baseless accusations and ‘disputed’ claims, all of which are causing intense conversation online, there’s been no explicit malfeasance abroad.
Former CIA officer Cindy Otis, vice president for analysis at the Alethea Group, which tracks disinformation, explained to AP News: ‘For quite a while at this point, the Kremlin has been able to essentially just use and amplify the content, the false and misleading and sensational, politically divisive content generated by political officials and American themselves.’
Alex Stamos, director of the Stanford Internet Observatory and a member of the Election Integrity Partnership, said ‘almost all’ of the disinformation circulating election results is domestic, rather than being planted from overseas.
He added: ‘You’re not talking about grassroots activity so much anymore. You’re talking about top-down activity that is facilitated by the ability of these folks to create these audiences.’
Elsewhere, two Republican senators – including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney – have bucked the GOP trend and stood up to the president, with other members of the party starting to sway from Trump’s conspiracy theories.
Criticising Trump’s fraud accusations and requests to overturn Democratic victories, Romney said, ‘It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president’.