Joe Biden: why did the US president call Vladimir Putin a ‘killer’ - and did Russia meddle in the election?

Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in November’s US presidential election and was sworn in at the US Senate on 20 January

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 2:11 pm

Political relations between the United States and Russia appear strained after a US intelligence report accused Vladimir Putin of election meddling.

The document, released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, points the finger at the Russian president and his government for attempting to influence the 2020 US elections.

US president Joe Biden, who defeated Donald Trump in the November vote, has further stoked the flames by confirming his belief that Mr Putin was “a killer” in an ABC News interview.

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US president Joe Biden accused Vladimir Putin of being “a killer”, who “doesn’t have a soul” and said the Russian president "would pay the price" for attempting to meddle in November's presidential election. (Pic: Getty)

Russia has responded by recalling its Washington ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, to Moscow for a debrief to prevent what it called “irreversible deterioration” of relations with the US.

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Here’s what we know.

What are the allegations?

A US intelligence report has outlined how Russia attempted to interfere in the presidential election to help boost Mr Trump’s chances of victory over Mr Biden.

The 15-page document said individuals with links to Russia spread unsubstantiated claims about the then presidential candidate Mr Biden ahead of the 3 November election.

Russia wanted to undermine confidence in the broader election process through a campaign of disinformation, the report said, as people connected to the country pushed anti-Biden narratives.

It went on to say how, at the same time Russia was trying to drum up support for Mr Trump, Iran launched a “multi-pronged covert influence campaign” in a bid to weaken the president’s seat.

“Broad Russian and Iranian campaigns targeting multiple critical infrastructure sectors did compromise the security of several networks that managed some election functions,” it read.

The report also said how China chose not to get involved, how it “sought stability in its relationship with the United States” and didn’t think it would be “advantageous enough” when weighing up the risk of being caught.

Did this interfere with the election result?

The US intelligence report concluded that neither the voting process or the final results were interfered with by any foreign states - and that the election outcome was accurate.

The alleged attempts of interference were largely indirect, the report said.

“We have no indications that any foreign actor attempted to interfere,” the report continued. “By altering any technical aspect of the voting process, including voter registration, ballot casting, vote tabulation, or reporting results.”

This conclusion was backed up by a joint investigation by the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, which was released around the same time as the report.

Mr Trump had attempted to cast doubt on the voting process and the subsequent result through unsubstantiated claims after losing the November presidential election.

Yet, despite his efforts, the result has been maintained and saw Mr Trump exit the White House on 20 January shortly before Mr Biden was sworn in at the US Senate.

Why did Joe Biden call Vladimir Putin a “killer”?

In an explosive interview with ABC News, US president Joe Biden accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of being “a killer”, who “doesn’t have a soul”.

He went on to say how Mr Putin would “pay the price” for his efforts to undermine the 2020 US election, after the intelligence report was released.

Mr Biden didn’t go into what this meant, only saying that it will become clear soon, adding: “The most important thing in dealing with foreign leaders… is just know the other guy.”

Mr Biden claimed to have told Mr Putin he didn’t think the Russian president had a soul in 2011, to which Mr Putin replied: “We understand one another”.

How has Russia responded?

After pulling its Washington ambassador, Russia went on the offensive through the Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov who said “There hasn’t been anything like this in history”.

“These are very bad statements by the President of the United States,” said Peskov. “He definitely does not want to improve relations with us, and we will continue to proceed from this.”