Don't read anything into Russia's reluctance to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin said Sunday. That process is just a formality, the Russian leader said on state TV, Bloomberg reports. But he specified that his recognition does have prerequisites. "We will work with anyone who has the confidence of the American people," Putin said. "But that confidence can only be given to a candidate whose victory has been recognized by the opposing party, or after the results are confirmed in a legitimate, legal way." He appears to be keeping an eye on President Trump's court battle to overturn the election results. "We are just waiting for the end of the internal political confrontation," Putin said, per the AP.
Putin is one of the few holdouts among world leaders, now that China has congratulated Biden. Russia's wariness about the new administration partly involves concerns that Biden will step up sanctions and confront it over human rights issues. As for whether waiting to recognize the president-elect's victory will damage US-Russia relations, Putin essentially said, "What relations?" State TV reported he said: "There’s nothing to damage, they’re already ruined." (The US dropped out of the Open Skies treaty with Russia on Sunday.)