MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he had noted what he called “sharp anti-Russian rhetoric” from U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, but that he had been encouraged by Biden’s comments on arms control.
Putin, in comments on state television ahead of the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3, said Russia would work with any U.S. leader, but praised Republican incumbent Donald Trump for saying he wanted better ties with Moscow.
“Of course we value this,” said Putin, who also denied once again Washington’s charge of Russian meddling in U.S. elections.
He said that a bipartisan U.S. consensus on the need to restrain Russia had held back the possibility of that happening, but that a lot had nonetheless been done and that bilateral trade had grown despite U.S. sanctions and the pandemic.
“As far as the candidate from the Democratic Party is concerned … we also see quite sharp anti-Russian rhetoric. Unfortunately, we are used to to this,” Putin said in an appearance on state television.
But he added that Biden had made what he regarded as encouraging statements on New START, the last major nuclear arms pact between Russia and the United States, which is due to expire in February.
Moscow and Washington have so far been unable to agree a new treaty or an extension, though Trump’s envoy for arms control said on Tuesday that “important progress” had been made at bilateral talks.
“Candidate Biden publicly said he was ready for an extension of New START or to reach a new treaty to limit strategic … weapons, and this is a very serious element of our cooperation in the future,” Putin said.
Last month, Putin proposed a cyber reset in ties with Washington and called for a bilateral agreement that they would not engage in cyber-meddling in each other’s elections.
On Wednesday he said Washington had ignored that proposal.
“Unfortunately… there has been no answer on this… very important issue, although there are continuing claims against us about our apparent hyperactivity… in interfering in elections … which are completely groundless.”
(Reporting by Moscow newsroom; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Gareth Jones)