(NYTimes) MOSCOW — The morning after Joseph R. Biden Jr. became president-elect of the United States, the Kremlin published a congratulatory message from President Vladimir V. Putin.
It was a happy-60th-birthday greeting to a Moscow theater director.
Unlike his Western European counterparts, who quickly posted congratulations on Saturday, Mr. Putin had not issued a statement on the president-elect even as night fell in Moscow on Sunday. Four years earlier, the Kremlin rushed out a message for President Trump within hours of the American television networks calling the race on election night. [...]
Mr. Putin portrays himself as a defender of Russia against an encroaching West. A tougher Russia policy in the United States could play to his advantage, said Sam Greene, director of the Russia Institute at King’s College London.
“Conflict with the West and the United States in particular form an important part of Putin’s legitimacy,” Mr. Greene said. [...]
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