Russian envoy to US back in Moscow after Biden calls Putin a killer

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it was recalling its ambassador, Mr Anatoly Antonov, for urgent talks.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it was recalling its ambassador, Mr Anatoly Antonov, for urgent talks.PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russia's ambassador to the United States arrived in Moscow on Sunday (March 21) for discussions on how to address sliding US-Russia relations after President Joe Biden said he thought President Vladimir Putin was a killer, the TASS news agency reported.

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday it was recalling its ambassador, Mr Anatoly Antonov, for urgent talks after Mr Biden said in an ABC interview that he thought Mr Putin was a killer who would "pay a price" for alleged US election meddling - an accusation that Moscow denies.

Mr Putin responded to Mr Biden by citing a Russian children's playground chant that "he who said it, did it", and offered to hold live online talks with the US president, a proposal that Mr Biden has not so far taken up.

The Russian embassy in Washington's social media accounts posted a picture of Mr Antonov in the early hours of Sunday morning at a US airport, with an Aeroflot plane idling on the runway.

"Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov is on his way to Moscow to participate in consultations on rectifying Russia-US relations," the embassy said.

Both countries have said they will only cooperate when it is in their national interest to do so.

State TV's First Channel said Mr Antonov told reporters before boarding his plane that there a was a lot of work for the Russian foreign ministry and others to do, but he had no doubt that keeping lines of communication open was in the interests of the American people.

The channel then read out what it said were excerpts of letters sent to Mr Antonov by Americans before his departure, which apologised for Mr Biden's comments about Mr Putin.

TASS said a plane carrying Mr Antonov had touched down at Moscow's Sheremtyevo airport on Sunday morning.