While flying in Air Force One over Virginia this morning, President Obama finally made a phone call he'd been putting off all week to Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his dubious presidential win in Russia, well after many of his Western counterparts had done so. "White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One that Obama would telephone the Russian president-elect," Reuters reports. The call came a whole five days after Putin's 63 percent finish Sunday's election, a win due as much to whatever natural charsima he has as it is to suspected poll-rigging.
Perhaps, given how suspect Putin's victory is, Obama was hesitant to offer the usual congratulations democratic leaders give to one another when they win elections. The White House doesn't want you to think that, of course. "I would not read anything into it beyond the busy schedules of the two," Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday. But the fact that he had to field the question, and that Earnest made sure to tell the media of the phone call today, suggests that some people may have thought otherwise. The leaders of the U.K., France, and Germany (as well as Syria, Iran, and Venezuela) all called Putin on Monday.
It wasn't complete silence from the U.S. On Monday the State Department said it officially "congratulates the Russian people on the completion of the Presidential elections, and looks forward to working with the President-elect after the results are certified and he is sworn in." Sure, they didn't mention Putin by name, but they still managed to allude to the apparent fraud.