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Putin pulls envoy from D.C. but wishes Biden "good health" as Russians blast "killer" remark

Russia lashes out after Biden calls Putin a killer
Russia lashes out after Biden calls Putin a killer 01:45

Moscow — President Vladimir Putin reacted on Thursday to President Joe Biden's agreement with a description of the Russian leader as "a killer" by suggesting Mr. Biden reflect on America's own bleak history, as Moscow pulled its ambassador home from Washington and other Russian officials demanded an apology.  

In an interview that aired on Wednesday, Mr. Biden was asked by ABC News' George Stephanopoulos whether he thought the Russian president was "a killer," to which the American leader responded: "I do."

Putin said Russia would continue to work with the U.S. in certain areas, but his spokesman said earlier that Mr. Biden's remarks were evidence the new American administration "does not want to get the relationship with our country back on track."

"These are very bad statements by the President of the United States. He definitely does not want to improve relations with us, and we will proceed accordingly," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

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Putin's remarks also came after the Foreign Ministry announced that it was summoning the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, back to Moscow from Washington. The purpose, according to the Ministry, being for consultations to prevent the "irreversible deterioration" of relations with the U.S.

In the ABC interview Mr. Biden said Putin was a man without a soul, and promised he would pay a price for alleged Russian meddling in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

A report by the U.S. intelligence community on foreign threats that was declassified this week says Putin himself authorized influence operations in a bid to damage President Biden's candidacy and boost former President Donald Trump's chances.

Washington has said it's preparing new sanctions against Russia over the meddling and an alleged hack.

The Kremlin has denied any interference and allegations of cyberattacks.

Earlier on Thursday, Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy chairman of the Russian parliament's upper house, said in a Facebook post that Moscow wanted an apology from Washington or a clarification of Mr. Biden's remarks, which he called "unacceptable under any circumstances."

Speaker of the lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, said such statements "offend the citizens of Russia."

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Putin spoke during a videoconference marking the seventh anniversary of Russia's unilateral annexation of Crimea from Ukraine — a move that has seen Moscow hit with numerous sanctions by both the U.S. and Europe.

The Russian leader appeared to defend his government's recent actions by pointing to the United States' own bloody history.

"In the history of every nation, every state, there are many very difficult, very dramatic and bloody events. But when we evaluate other people, or when we evaluate even other states, other nations, we always seem to look in a mirror," Putin said. He elaborated by using a Russian expression often used by children, which can be translated: "One who calls names is himself called that name."  

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a video conference in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a meeting with community representatives and residents of Crimea and Sevastopol via a video link in Moscow, Russia, March 18, 2021. Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS

He said the mass killing of Native Americans and the United States' early reliance on slavery had led to present-day problems, linking them specifically to ongoing calls for racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Speaking more directly about Mr. Biden, whom he said he knows personally, Putin said: "I would say to him: I wish you good health. I say that without irony or joking." 

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