The Slatest

Even Vladimir Putin Concedes Trump Lost the Election, Congratulates Biden

Putin and Trump, seated side-by-side, lean in to speak to one another at a summit.
Psst… It’s over. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/Getty Images

President Donald Trump may still be squawking about the intergalactic injustice of losing the 2020 election, and what he intends to do about it (everything!), but you know it’s over when Russian President Vladimir Putin throws in the towel on his pet political project. Six weeks after Election Day, and five weeks later than most world leaders chimed in, Putin conceded Trump’s defeat, even if Trump himself hasn’t. Putin sent a “congratulatory telegram” Tuesday acknowledging President-elect Joe Biden’s “victory in the United States presidential election.”

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“In his message Vladimir Putin wished the president-elect every success and expressed confidence that Russia and the United States, which bear special responsibility for global security and stability, can, despite their differences, effectively contribute to solving many problems and meeting challenges that the world is facing today,” the Kremlin said in a statement. And with that the tortured era of truly bizarre presidential conduct towards Russia’s leader comes to a close. The struggle to understand what it all meant, and why it occurred, will now be moved from the White House press corps to the history books.

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Putin was among the last holdouts of a motley, yet predictable, crew of right-wing political bruisers and opportunists that includes Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and North Korea’s Kim Jung Un. Poland’s right-wing President Andrzej Duda waited until this week to send congratulations, while Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador has, unfathomably, not yet formally acknowledged Biden’s victory. The Kremlin, much like the Republican Party, had been content to wait and see just how far Trump would go and how much of America’s democratic infrastructure he could incinerate on his way out. After the Electoral College’s official vote Monday, confirming the confirmation of the confirmed vote count and recount, Putin, unlike many American GOP members of Congress, weighed in. “The Kremlin had said that since Mr. Trump had not conceded, it was waiting for an ‘official announcement’ of the American election result,” the New York Times notes. “The delay in recognizing Mr. Biden as president-elect also allowed Russian state media to underline, for its domestic audience, what it cast as the chaotic and illegitimate nature of American democracy.”

The approach to the incoming Biden administration comes on the heels of news of a sweeping suspected Russian hack of American government agencies and reports about the Kremlin’s role in the poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny. “Russian-American cooperation based on the principles of equality and mutual respect would respond to the interests of the peoples of both countries and the entire international community,” Putin told Biden, according to the Kremlin. “From my side, I am prepared for cooperation and contact with you.”

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