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The Kremlin on Friday blasted President Biden’s comments about jailed dissident Alexei Navalny and Washington’s relationship with Moscow as “very aggressive rhetoric.”
Biden promised Thursday a new era of US foreign policy in his first diplomatic address as president and said he had told President Vladimir Putin to expect a stronger approach to ties with Moscow.
The president also demanded the release of Navalny, 44, who has been ordered to serve the remainder of his 3½-year prison sentence after a court ruled he violated terms of his parole.
The fierce Putin critic was detained upon his return from Germany, where he’d been recovering for five months after being poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Friday that Biden’s comments were disappointing.
“This is very aggressive, unconstructive rhetoric, to our regret,” Peskov said.
“Any hints of ultimatums are unacceptable to us. We have already said that we won’t pay attention to any lecturing announcements,” he said, as he acknowledged a “huge amount of differences and different approaches to key issues.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
But he added that the Kremlin hoped there could still be useful dialogue between the two countries when their interests coincided.
On Thursday, Biden warned of “advancing authoritarianism” in China and Russia.
He said he “made it clear to President Putin, in a manner very different from my predecessor, that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions, interfering with our elections, cyber attacks, poisoning its citizens, are over.”
Russian officials have denied interfering in US elections or poisoning Navalny.
Meanwhile, Russia on Friday expelled diplomats from Poland, Germany and Sweden for taking part in protests in support of Navalny, Agence France-Presse reported.
US President Joe Biden speaks about foreign policy at the State Department in Washington, DC, on Feb. 4, 2021.Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
With European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Moscow for a rare visit, Russia said it had declared the diplomats personae non grata.
Moscow announced the expulsions just hours after Borrell met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss ties, with the unspecified number of diplomats “ordered to leave Russia in the near future.”
With Post wires