Biden says Putin will ‘pay a price’ for 2020 election interference

US intelligence report finds Kremlin directed efforts to boost Trump’s re-election chances

US president Joe Biden boards Air Force One after attending St Patrick’s Day Mass in Wilmington, Delaware on Wednesday. Photograph: Doug Mills/New York Times

US president Joe Biden boards Air Force One after attending St Patrick’s Day Mass in Wilmington, Delaware on Wednesday. Photograph: Doug Mills/New York Times

 

US president Joe Biden has said the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, will face consequences for directing efforts to swing the 2020 US presidential election to Donald Trump, and that they would come soon.

“He will pay a price,” Mr Biden told ABC News in an interview that aired on Wednesday morning.

Asked by the Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos what the consequences would be, he said: “You’ll see shortly.”

Mr Biden’s comments came after a US declassified intelligence report on Tuesday bolstered long-standing allegations that Mr Putin was behind Moscow’s election interference, by proliferating “misleading or unsubstantiated allegations” largely designed to denigrate Mr Biden and boost Mr Trump’s re-election, some fed through allies of Mr Trump.

The assessment was contained in a 15-page report published by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Tuesday afternoon.

It underscored allegations that Mr Trump’s allies played into Moscow’s hands by amplifying claims against Mr Biden by Ukrainian figures with links to Russia.

Smear

The report concluded that Russia-backed figures such as Ukrainian parliamentarian Andrii Derkach enlisted unnamed US political figures in their campaign to smear Mr Biden and his son Hunter.

The report named Mr Derkach, who met Mr Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani in 2019, as someone whose movements were tracked, if not directed, by Mr Putin.

“Putin had purview over the activities of Andrii Derkach,” the report said. “Other senior officials also participated in Russia’s election influence efforts – including senior national security and intelligence officials who we assess would not act without receiving at least Putin’s tacit approval.”

In a statement, the Democratic House intelligence chair, Adam Schiff, said: “Through proxies, Russia ran a successful intelligence operation that penetrated [Trump’s] inner circle.

Russia called the findings baseless.

At the same time, Mr Biden noted that the US and Russia can “walk and chew gum” at the same time.

“There’s places where it’s in our mutual interest to work together” such as renewing the Start nuclear agreement, he said.

Extending

On agreeing a New Start pact (which limits each country’s deployed strategic arsenal to 1,550 warheads each), Mr Biden and his close aides have signalled they are interested in extending the treaty, and that would be technically feasible even in the very limited time remaining, as extension requires only an exchange of notes between Washington and Moscow.

Russia has indicated its readiness to extend but there is still the question of how long for.

Mr Biden’s team will also have to decide how to balance a New Start extension with a desire to take a tougher line with Moscow on election interference in both 2016 and 2020, and other issues, particularly its recent cyberattacks on US institutions.

Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, said: “Within the first 100 or 200 days of the administration, the US and Russia should resume strategic stability talks that would hopefully cover a wide range of topics and help to set the stage for more formal negotiations.”

– Guardian