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NATO says Biden victory will help with 'assertive Russia,' as influential Moscow MP warns Democrat sees country as 'main enemy'

NATO says Biden victory will help with 'assertive Russia,' as influential Moscow MP warns Democrat sees country as 'main enemy'
After Joe Biden declared victory in the US presidential election on Saturday, there are fears that tensions between Russia and the West could escalate under his leadership.

Congratulating the Democratic candidate on his projected win, which incumbent President Donald Trump continues to allege is the result of electoral fraud, the secretary general of NATO singled out Moscow as a priority for the incoming American leader. In a statement on the US-led military bloc's website, Jens Stoltenberg wrote, "I warmly welcome the election of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. I know Mr. Biden as a strong supporter of NATO and the transatlantic relationship."

He continued: "We need this collective strength to deal with the many challenges we face, including a more assertive Russia, international terrorism, cyber and missile threats, and a shift in the global balance of power with the rise of China."

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Russia's Foreign Ministry has argued that NATO is increasingly succumbing to anti-Russian rhetoric. Spokesperson Maria Zakharova told reporters last month in a discussion about tensions with Sweden that the bloc was the source of "invented anti-Russian phobias" and "fanning tensions and the escalation of military activities in Northern Europe, one of the most stable regions in the world until recently."

The past record of Biden, a stalwart of the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, has concerned many Moscow lawmakers. The presumptive winner is unlikely to oversee an easing of tensions between the two countries, cautioned Leonid Slutsky, who heads the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, which is the Russian equivalent to the body which Biden chaired, adding that he didn't "expect essential changes for the better."

"Biden, together with President [Barack] Obama, launched the flywheel of new deterrents against Russia, with a series of sanctions at various levels," Slutsky said.He also pointed to comments that Biden made in the past in which the Democratic candidate positioned Russia as America's "main enemy" in his pre-election rhetoric.

Although Trump's surprise electoral victory in 2016 was framed by supporters of the Russiagate theory as a win for the Kremlin, any hopes that Moscow might have had for improved ties between the two countries have vanished. In 2019, President Vladimir Putin warned that US-Russian relations were getting "worse and worse" as a result of diplomatic spats and the imposition of new sanctions.

In 2019, Trump announced that he would unilaterally withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which had banned many types of nuclear missiles since it was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.

Biden announced on Saturday that he had won the presidency after major news outlets called the race. However, the count, which began on Tuesday and is already among the longest running in US history, is technically not over yet. Trump has taken to Twitter to declare that he "won this election by a lot," and has refused to concede. A protracted legal battle over the results in key states is expected over the coming days and weeks.

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