MOSCOW—President Vladimir Putin is still sticking by his pal President Trump and refusing to recognize Joe Biden as America’s president-elect. The Kremlin announced Monday that they would continue to stand by their man while “there are ongoing legal processes” even though there’s little prospect that any of Trump’s complaints will be taken seriously by the U.S. courts.
Putin’s reticence is not surprising: Biden once called Russia “the biggest threat to America” and the Kremlin hangs on to old words and meanings. Russian state TV made it clear throughout the election that Trump was the Kremlin’s preferred candidate, and in Moscow, politicians told The Daily Beast, “there is nothing good to expect from Biden.”
To the Kremlin there is no mystery about how Biden feels about Putin. Back in 2011, the then-vice president held a meeting with leaders of the Russian opposition at the U.S ambassador’s residence in Moscow, Spaso House. One of the participants, Boris Nemtsov, who was later assassinated in Moscow, wrote in his blog: “Biden said that [if he were] in Putin’s place, he would not stand for president in 2012, because that would be bad for the country and for himself.”
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Not only did Vladimir Putin run for a third and fourth term, he changed the Constitution to allow two more terms, potentially extending his rule until 2036. Meanwhile, opposition leader Aleksey Navalny, who is recovering in Germany from an assassination attempt, clearly appreciated Biden’s past support, posting a congratulatory tweet: “Congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on the victory and to the Americans on defining the new leadership in a free and fair election. This is a privilege, which is not available to all countries. Looking forward to the new level of cooperation between Russia and the US.”
Russian police raided Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation office on Thursday, and confiscated all the equipment and even a disco ball from the ceiling, along with some cash from the purses of employees. “People in epaulettes often tell me that they are soldiers fulfilling commands by evil bosses,” Navalny wrote. “But yesterday’s raids-searchings at our offices demonstrated a complete degradation of the system to its very depths.”
Biden, in contrast to President Trump, has commented on the attack on Navalny—no other signal could be clearer to the Kremlin about the potential for the future relations with a Biden administration. The Kremlin seems so nervous about Navalny, even while he is in Germany, that Putin refuses to speak his name publicly.
Nobody in Moscow doubts that Biden will continue to defend Ukraine’s interests and punish Russia for annexing Crimea. A report by the U.S. Treasury department said in early September that Ukrainian MP Andriy Derkach, at the forefront of pushing disinformation about Biden and his son Hunter, had been “an active Russian agent for over a decade.
Meanwhile, a few weeks ahead of the U.S. presidential election, the Kremlin’s officials declared that Russia is far from a nuclear deal with the United States. The White House rejected Putin’s proposal to keep the last major accord, New Start, alive. The agreement expires in February of next year. As the arms negotiations unraveled, Rossiya-24, a state television station, aired Putin’s meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov so the entire nation could witness Putin’s reaction: “So we have a clear threat to leave the world without this accord?” Putin asked. Lavrov confirmed: “And without any other document that would provide mutual approaches to sustaining strategic stability.”
Washington-based Kremlinologist Nikolay Zlobin predicted that Russia would become America’s enemy No. 1 under Biden’s presidency. Zlobin told the Interfax news agency that there would be no end to economic sanctions against Russia under the Democrat president.
“Putin will wait for the official decision of the election results, the certifications by the states, before congratulating Biden,” Sergei Markov, an analyst close to the Kremlin, told The Daily Beast.
“Nobody expects him to be an independent leader, it is the anti-Russian deep state of the U.S. secret services who will continue running America,” Markov predicted. “The hybrid war that began in 2014, when the U.S. helped the revolution in Ukraine, will continue, and so will the cold war with Russia.”