I have already said that we often must pay attention to indirect signals. This time I will talk about the US presidential election and Russia's response to its results.
After the 2016 US presidential election, there were numerous reports indicating Russia's interference in order to get Donald Trump elected as president. In reality, during his presidency Trump wasn't all that friendly towards Putin's regime, but on some issues his tolerance of Russia was indeed quite high. It also cannot be ruled out that Russia attempted to get Trump elected in 2016 not because they liked him in particular, but because if the other candidate would have been elected the US response to Putin's shenanigans would have been far more unfavorable. However, Trump has often complimented Putin, and both leaders communicate via phone, which is completely normal. But in this regard, the Kremlin once made a rather bizarre statement, i.e. Putin's press representative expressed hopes that the US will never publish the transcripts of the phone calls between Trump and Putin. Interesting - what did both men talk about that needs to be kept secret? I am certain that the new presidential administration of the US will look into the deeds of its predecessor and shed some light on this issue.
Now, to more recent events. According to unofficial results, Joe Biden has acquired enough electoral votes to become the new president of the US, as was predicted. Naturally, Trump will do everything in his power to deny the election results, bet this won't change the outcome of the election. US media have already crowned Biden the winner, and as usual he was congratulated by world leaders and other notable persons.
We have reached the indirect signal I was talking about. If in 2016 Putin congratulated Trump within a few hours after the unofficial results were announced, he has yet to congratulate Biden. Unlike with Trump, Putin has now decided to wait for the official election results. Doing this, Putin confirms that he was against Biden becoming president. We could see who Putin's favored candidate is already before the election by simply looking at the articles published in Russia's official media outlets - they were in favor of Trump and against Biden.
Some may argue that you can only congratulate someone after the official results have been announced. In a way, I agree, but it is generally accepted to congratulate a candidate after the unofficial results get published. We can be sure that Putin likes to express his attitude through different actions if we remember that his 2017 New Year's congratulations went to Trump, rather than Obama. If Putin cares so much about protocol that he refuses to congratulate the unofficial winner of the election, then why in 2017 did he choose to congratulate the president-elect, not the actual president of the state?
Let's look at this issue from a different angle - the way Biden's victory is being portrayed in Russia. I will just remind you that Russia's official media outlets follow the course determined by the Kremlin.
Let's begin with the eloquent headlines of the articles. For instance, "Putin has nothing to congratulate Biden for", "Ten women, five coloreds and a gay: who will make Biden's team", "Did he get rid of evil, or did he steal votes", "How Biden's victory is met in the US". Along with articles, there were also carefully selected photographs portraying Biden in a negative light. All this would make the USSR proud.
So, why is Putin's Russia so vehemently against Biden's victory? Quite simple - Biden has said numerous times that he will take a significantly stricter stance against Putin. Already in 2015, he condemned Putin's aggression in Ukraine, and it's clear that Biden doesn't believe Putin and his policies have changed. It is also important to note that Biden is against Russia's Nord Stream 2 project. In addition, unlike Trump, Biden is a seasoned politician who can't be charmed by mere compliments and sweet talk.
All this proves that Putin's Russia is well aware that the new US president will be more decisive and stricter towards the Kremlin's shenanigans. Consequently, it will be more difficult for Putin to carry out his bullyish maneuvers in the international arena.