Biden calls Putin a killer; a day later, Russia recalls its ambassador for consultations

Russian President Vladimir Putin sits at a desk as part of a videoconference with students in January.
President Biden said Tuesday that he considered Russian President Vladimir Putin a killer.
(Mikhail Klimentyev / Associated Press)

Russia is recalling its ambassador to the United States for consultations, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday without citing a specific reason.

The move to bring Anatoly Antonov to Moscow comes amid rising tensions with President Biden’s administration, which has imposed sanctions over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is now in prison.

It also comes on the heels of a declassified report from the U.S. national intelligence director’s office that finds President Vladimir Putin authorized influence operations to help then-President Trump in November’s presidential election.


President Biden had his first call with Vladimir Putin, raising concerns about Alexei Navalny’s arrest while pressing Putin on bounties on U.S. troops.

Jan. 26, 2021

In a television interview aired Tuesday in the U.S., Biden was asked whether he thought Putin is a killer. He nodded and said, “I do.”

Asked about the intelligence report on Putin’s role in election interference, Biden said, “He will pay a price.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova did not cite specific reasons for Antonov’s return but said relations “are in a difficult state, which Washington has brought to a dead end in recent years.”

“We are interested in preventing their irreversible degradation, if the Americans are aware of the associated risks,” she added.