Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told reporters Monday that the Kremlin was holding off on a congratulatory message out of respect for the court challenges launched by Mr. Trump.
“We believe it would be proper to wait for an official announcement” of the election results, Mr. Peskov said. “In any case, we hope that it will be possible to establish a dialogue with the next president of the United States and to agree on paths toward normalizing our bilateral relationship.”
But the vitriol on Kremlin-controlled television, and the lack of a quick congratulations for Mr. Biden, was notable given that Mr. Putin appeared to be trying to distance himself from Mr. Trump as Mr. Biden emerged as the clear favorite in recent months. Some Russian analysts and politicians had even speculated that new leadership in Washington could be a good thing for Moscow.
“There are increasingly few within the Russian elite who see Trump as an objective in himself,” Tatiana Stanovaya, a political commentator, wrote in an essay titled “A Farewell to Trump?” She added that there was “also a feeling of Trump fatigue,” even in the Kremlin.
Indeed, Mr. Putin chose this fall not to give Mr. Trump what would have been a prized foreign policy victory: a renegotiated New Start nuclear arms deal, the last remaining major arms control agreement between the countries.
Mr. Trump’s lead negotiator, Marshall Billingslea, went so far as to announce that the two leaders had a “gentleman’s agreement” for a renegotiated deal. Yet, within hours, a deputy foreign minister, Sergei A. Ryabkov, called the Trump administration delusional. “Washington is describing what is desired, not what is real,” he said.
Instead, in a television interview last month, Mr. Putin lauded Mr. Biden as being prepared to extend the treaty. And in what may have been a backhanded compliment, he praised the Democrats as sharing leftist ideals with a party of which Mr. Putin was once a member: the Communists.