The Kremlin said on Monday that U.S. Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden's assessment of Russia as the biggest threat to U.S. national security was wrong and encouraged hatred of Russia.
The comments come just over a week before Biden faces Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election. Biden is ahead in the polls. "We absolutely do not agree," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call, when asked to comment on Biden's assessment.
"We can only regret that absolute hatred of the Russian Federation is spread in this way." 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 were further soured after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to tilt the contest in Trump's favour, an allegation Moscow has denied. Russia has also dismissed accusations by U.S. intelligence agencies of trying to interfere with this year's election.
Biden named Russia as Washington's most serious global threat in an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes on Sunday, while calling China the biggest competitor.
"Well, I think the biggest threat to America right now in terms of breaking up our security and our alliances is Russia," said Biden. Putin, who has praised Trump in the past for saying he wanted better ties with Moscow, has said Russia will work with any U.S. leader, while noting what he called Joe Biden's "sharp anti-Russian rhetoric".
The Russian leader said on Sunday that he saw nothing criminal in past business ties with Ukraine or Russia developed by Biden's son Hunter, marking out his disagreement with one of Trump's attack lines in the U.S. election. Analysts say Putin's behaviour looks like he is hedging his bets on who wins the U.S. election.