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The incoming US President and his relationship with Putin was put to the test in the aftermath of Mr Biden’s election win, with the Russian taking weeks to congratulate his counterpart. World leaders from across the globe were quick to react to Mr Biden’s victory, which will see him formally take over from incumbent US President Donald Trump this month. It saw experts discuss how this relationship could develop, particularly as Mr Biden is a longtime critic of Russia, and Putin.
Although some saw Russia’s delay in contacting Mr Biden as a negative, Konstantin Eggert, a Russian political commentator, said the move was “classic Putin”, as it “proved that he’s tough, strong, and ready to take the fight all the way to Washington”.
In a telegraph Putin sent to Mr Biden, which was published across Russian state media, the Kremlin’s leader said he had “confidence that Russia and the US can facilitate the resolution of many problems and challenges faced by the world now”.
Yet, the previous history between Mr Biden and Putin demonstrates just how difficult a relationship this may be to manage.
While Vice President, Mr Biden routinely attacked Russia and its position as a powerhouse, particularly during the conflict between Moscow and Ukraine.
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The row centred around the status of the Ukrainian regions of Crimea and Donbass, and how Russia annexed the former amid tensions with Kyiv.
In 2015, at the height of tension, Mr Biden announced sanctions on Russia after the West accused it of arming rebels in the Ukraine, and sending troops to the region.
He called on Putin to “make a simple, stark choice – get out of Ukraine, or face continued isolation and growing economic costs”.
At the time, hundreds had been killed, a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report said, while violence has continued until the present day.
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Mr Biden argued the decision made by the US, and its then-President Barack Obama, was not an attempt to “weaken the Russian economy” but a warning shot to Putin.
He argued that Russia should be “judged by the action it takes on the ground” and not agreements it “signs on paper”.
While speaking at a security conference in Germany, he added: “Given Russia’s recent history, we need to judge it by its deeds, not its words.
“Don’t tell us, show us, President Putin. Too many times President Putin has promised peace and delivered tanks, troops, and weapons.”
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The Democrat was also critical of Putin following a meeting at the Kremlin nine years ago, where he told the Russian premier exactly what he thought about him.
According to the New Yorker, Mr Biden recalled having an interpreter show him around Putin’s huge office, before he joked “it was amazing what capitalism will do”.
Putin, who was Prime Minister at the time, then got a “few inches away” from Mr Biden’s nose, before the then-Vice President said to the Russian: “I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.”
Reflecting on the moment, Mr Biden added: “He looked back at me, and he smiled, and he said, ‘We understand one another.’ ”
Mr Biden has also been known to want to work with Russia, and in 2009 a Politico report confirmed that he wanted to “press the reset button” on ties between Washington and Moscow.
However, he rejected a move from Russia as it wished to halt further NATO expansion in Eastern Europe, something Moscow is vehemently opposed to, by demanding that “sovereign states have the right to make their own decisions and choose their own alliances”.
Discussing how Russia and the US could move its relationship forward, Mr Eggert told NPR in December, that both will have to make compromises, adding: “For Putin, the priority always was to be seen as talking to the United States. And interestingly enough, in a very large measure, the Trump administration denied him this possibility.
“For him, being able to speak one-on-one with the United States is proof of Russia’s superpower status and his global role.”
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