- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday congratulated President-elect Joseph R. Biden on his White House victory, becoming one of the last major world leaders to formally recognize the looming transfer of power in the U.S.

In a letter to Mr. Biden, Mr. Putin said that he believes the U.S. and Russia not only can work together but also share a “special responsibility” for global security — an apparent nod to both nations’ massive nuclear arsenals. Relations between Washington and Moscow remain icy, and Mr. Putin’s message comes amid speculation that Russia was seeking to undermine the incoming Biden administration by refusing to officially acknowledge it on the world stage.

“In his telegram, Putin wished every success to the president-elect and expressed confidence that Russia and the US, who bear special responsibility for global security and stability, could, despite their differences, help solve many problems and challenges that the world now faces,” the Kremlin said in a readout of Mr. Putin’s message to Mr. Biden. “For my part, I am ready to cooperate and maintain contact with you.”

The Electoral College formally voted on Monday and confirmed Mr. Biden’s victory over President Trump. The Kremlin said it was that definitive step that led to Mr. Putin’s outreach.

Most other world leaders congratulated Mr. Biden weeks ago. Even Chinese President Xi Jinping — dubbed a “thug” by Mr. Biden during a presidential debate earlier this year — sent a message of congratulations late last month.

Mr. Putin’s message comes at another tense time for the fragile and complex U.S.-Russia relationship. American officials this week are still working to evaluate the full scope of a massive hacking operation that went undetected for weeks and targeted key federal agencies, the Pentagon and other arms of the government.

The operation is widely believed to have been carried out by hackers affiliated with Russian intelligence agencies.

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