Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday congratulated Joe Biden on winning the U.S. presidential election after weeks of holding out.
Putin's message to Biden came a day after the Electoral College confirmed Biden as the nation’s next president, ratifying his November victory in an authoritative state-by-state repudiation of President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede that he had lost. The Kremlin had said earlier that the Russian president would hold off on congratulating Biden until the winner was officially confirmed.
"We are just waiting for the end of the internal political confrontation,” Putin said last month, referring to numerous Republican challenges to the vote count.
In his message, Putin wished Biden "every success," according to a Kremlin statement Tuesday, and expressed confidence that "Russia and the U.S., which bear special responsibility for global security and stability can, despite the differences, really contribute to solving many problems and challenges that the world is currently facing," according to The Associated Press (AP).
The Russian president noted: "The Russian-American cooperation based on the principles of equality and mutual respect would meet the interests of the people in both countries and the entire international community.”
"For my part, I am ready for interaction and contact with you,” Putin was quoted by the Kremlin as saying.
The country's officials, including the head of Russia's elections commission and the foreign minister, have previously criticized the U.S. electoral process, calling it archaic and expressing doubt about how the country's vote reflected the will of the American people.
Moscow's ties with Washington sank to post-Cold War lows in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. Biden was serving as vice president under President Barack Obama at the time. Relations further soured over U.S. allegations that Moscow had meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to try to tilt the vote in Trump's favor, something the Kremlin denied.
In the run-up to the vote, Putin had appeared to hedge his bets, frowning on Biden's anti-Russian rhetoric but welcoming his comments on nuclear arms control.
Biden is expected to take a tougher stance on Russia than seen during Trump's presidency, which has long been criticized by Democrats for having “embraced so many autocrats around the world, starting with Vladimir Putin.”