Sign Putin is unhappy about Trump
Russia's response to the news of Joe Biden's election win in the US is remarkably different compared to Vladimir Putin's well wishes to Donald Trump four years earlier.
In the hours after Biden's win was announced over the weekend, while world leaders sent their congratulations to the Democratic winner, Russia, and also China, remained unusually quiet.
In 2016, Putin was among the first to send his congratulations, just over an hour after projections claimed Trump had won.
This year, in the hours after the election announcement the Kremlin issued just one congratulatory message that speaks volumes. But not to Biden. Or Trump. It was to director of the Moscow Drama Theater, Oleg Menshikov. A congratulations on his 60th birthday.
It's an uncertain and foreboding sign as the world enters more uncharted territory in terms of how Russia and China will react to the US in the years ahead.
In 2016 Putin sent a message of "hope" on the horizon at the announcement of Trump's presidential win.
He hoped to work together to lift Russian-US relations out of the current crisis, he said.
To resolve issues on the international agenda and look for effective responses to global security challenges.
Fast forward to 2020 - and silence. Instead, Putin was pictured discussing "post-conflict recovery" with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Assad's forces control more than 70 per cent of Syria, while remaining areas are held by US-backed Kurdish forces as well as rebels and jihadists opposed to the Damascus government.
"My reaction was goodness me, it's so different to four years ago, back in 2016 when Vladimir Putin couldn't wait to congratulate president-elect Trump," BBC's Moscow Correspondent Steve Rosenberg said.
Overnight, a Kremlin spokesperson indicated they will wait until the election result is officially confirmed before providing a formal reaction, noting Trump's legal claims over possible electoral fraud. China echoed a similar response.
"We believe it is correct to wait for the official results of the elections that have taken place," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
"I'd like to remind you that President Putin has repeatedly said that he will respect the choice of the American people whatever it may be."
Peskov said Putin would be "ready to work with any elected president of the United States" despite a crumbling relationship since Moscow was accused of election interference in 2016.
But experts are worried.
"The early signs indicate that Mr. Putin is preparing for a deeply adversarial relationship with America's next president," New York Times Moscow correspondent Anton Troianovski predicts.
"While Mr. Trump never delivered on Russian hopes of rapprochement between Washington and Moscow, his America-first foreign policy dovetailed with the Kremlin's desire to weaken the Western alliance and to expand Russian influence around the world."
The Kremlin has spoken on the US elections.— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) November 9, 2020
Congratulations? No, just comment:
“We believe the correct thing to do is wait for the official election result.” (Dmitry Peskov, Putin spokesman)
In a piece for the Times, Troianovski, along with Moscow based reporter Andrew E. Kramer, said president-elect Biden is already a foe to Russia and has repeatedly spoken out against the country, warning he will toughen up America's stance the state.
Russia and China will become likely losers in the Trump's defeat, with Rosenberg claiming the widespread suspicion in Russia's reluctance to send congratulations to the president-elect is due to a "strong element of sour grapes".
"It's not really the result that Moscow was hoping for.
"Donald Trump didn't transform US/Russia relations as he'd promised, but he never criticised Vladimir Putin. Joe Biden has criticised Vladimir Putin on many occasions, and recently identified Russia as the biggest threat to America.
"The concern here is that a Biden administration will be tougher on Moscow than its predecessor."
Peskov said that this election was different because of the legal challenges that Trump, who has refused to concede defeat, is planning to mount over the vote.
"The difference is quite obvious … then there were no announcements of legal challenges," Peskov said.
"We hope that with the next president of the United States it will be possible to re-establish a dialogue and together agree on ways to normalise our bilateral relations," he said.
Originally published as Sign Putin is unhappy about Trump
Today’s Russian papers distinctly downbeat about @JoeBiden. One calls him “a lame duck”, another says he’ll “continue the policy of restraining Russia.” One positive: “US-Russian relations can’t get any worse. They’re bad enough already” #ReadingRussia @BBCWorld @BBCNorthAmerica pic.twitter.com/XBPf7TZIQE— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) November 9, 2020