As a growing number of world leaders are congratulating U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, the Kremlin says it will wait for the final official results of the election before commenting on its outcome.
Asked why in 2016 President Vladimir Putin had congratulated Republican Donald Trump soon after he had won the Electoral College and beaten Democrat Hillary Clinton, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on November 9: "You can see that there are certain legal procedures that have been announced by the current president.”
“That is why the situations are different and we therefore think it appropriate to wait for an official announcement," Peskov added.
Trump's Democratic challenger, Biden, clinched the presidency on November 7, four days after election day, clearing the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.
But some U.S. states are counting remaining votes, and Trump is launching legal challenges to the results in several states. The moves are not expected to change the overall result in the Electoral College, however.
Electoral College electors meet on December 14 to cast their official votes.
Peskov said Putin had “repeatedly said he would respect the choice of the American people" and was ready to work with any U.S. president.
Moscow hoped it could find a way to normalize relations with Washington, according to the spokesman.
Russian ties with the United States sank to post-Cold War lows in 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region.
Biden, who was serving as vice president under President Barack Obama at the time, is expected to take a tougher stance toward the Kremlin on its human rights record and foreign policies compared with Trump.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who has found his government caught up in U.S. domestic political affairs, tweeted his congratulations on November 7, saying Ukraine "is optimistic about the future of the strategic partnership with the United States."