Moscow — Russia's government said on Monday that it would wait for an announcement of the official results of the U.S. presidential election before Russian leader Vladimir Putin makes any public comment on its outcome, noting the court challenges launched by President Donald Trump's lawyers.
Unlike many of his European counterparts, whoto President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday, Putin had issued no official statement as of Monday. Speaking to reporters on a conference call, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow believes, "it is proper to wait for an official announcement."
Russia has been accused of interfering in the 2016 U.S. election for four years now, trying to help get Mr. Trump elected, American intelligence agencies have said, likely in hope that he would prove a more friendly choice for Moscow. Again this year American officials said Russia was Mr. Trump's opponent.
Russia's leadership has repeatedly denied the accusations as unsubstantiated.
Asked what the difference was between the election results this year and the ones in 2016, when Putin promptly congratulated the president-elect, the Kremlin spokesman pointed to Mr. Trump's court challenges to the legitimacy of thousands of ballots. No verified evidence has been presented thus far of election fraud in the U.S. on a significant scale, but the legal challenges will have to be considered individually by courts.
CBS News, along with virtually all other major media outlets, projected Mr. Biden to be the election winner on Saturday, given official state tallies of counted ballots putting him over the required 270 elector threshold in the Electoral College.
"There are certain legal procedures ahead, which were announced by the incumbent president, so this situation is different," Peskov said. He recalled that four years ago, "there were no announcements of a legal challenge of the vote."
Peskov declined to say what announcement in the U.S. would meet the Kremlin's threshold to accept the election results. All U.S. state results must be certified by mid-December when the Electoral College meets.
"In any case, we hope that it will be possible to establish a dialogue with the next president of the United States and to agree on paths toward normalizing our bilateral relationship," Peskov said. "Particularly because an important field of bilateral relations, the security and stability field, concerns not only our two nations but in fact all nations in the world."
Putin's spokesman stressed that: "President Putin has repeatedly said that he will show respect for any choice of the American people and will be ready to work with any president-elect of the United States."
Russian state media coverage has highlighted the fact that while U.S. media have called the election, Mr. Trump has not given up the fight.
Relations between the two countries have been hovering around Cold War-era lows for the past six years. While there's no indication the situation is set to change quickly under the Biden-Harris administration, former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev has voiced hope that Mr. Biden will strive to normalize relations and recover trust, at least.
"I am confident that Russia needs good relations with the U.S. as well," Gorbachev told Russian state media on Sunday. "But not at any cost, of course."