Even after some leaders who are aligned with Trump, including Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, joined the congratulatory chorus over the weekend, Russia and others held back, citing Trump’s legal challenges questioning the results.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waited more than 48 hours, but eventually congratulated Biden on Tuesday, offering his "sincere wishes for the peace and welfare of the people of the United States of America.” China finally congratulated Biden on Friday.
Here are some of the leaders who have remained silent.
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said no statement of congratulations was to be offered because “there will be certain legal proceedings which were announced by the incumbent president.”
The decision to hold off could foreshadow frosty relations between Biden and Putin. Their ties are already strained by allegations, which the Kremlin denied, that Russia was behind pro-Trump disinformation campaigns ahead of the 2016 and 2020 elections.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador
“With regard to the U.S. election, we are going to wait until all the legal matters have been resolved,” López Obrador said at a news conference Saturday, Reuters reported. “I can’t congratulate one candidate or the other. I want to wait until the electoral process is over.”
The United States is Mexico’s top export market.
“President Trump has been very respectful of us, and we have reached very good agreements, and we thank him because he has not interfered and has respected us,” López Obrador said Saturday, according to the Associated Press.
On Wednesday, López Obrador defended his reticence. “We can’t make any kind of recognition of a government that is not yet legally and legitimately constituted,” he said, according to Reuters.
“It’s not up to us, that’s interventionism," he added.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro
Bolsonaro’s silence on Biden’s victory did not come as a surprise.
Few world leaders have associated themselves more closely with Trump than Bolsonaro, the formerly fringe politician who won the Brazilian presidency in 2018, mimicking many of Trump’s campaign tactics.
“I hope, God willing, to soon appear at the inauguration of President [Trump] in the United States,” Bolsonaro said late last month.
Last week, however, Bolsonaro appeared to adjust to a new reality. “I am not the most important person in Brazil, just as Trump is not the most important person in the world, as he himself says,” Bolsonaro said last Friday.
Bolsonaro has also adopted “a more pragmatic tone” in private, the Associated Press reported Sunday, citing unnamed officials.
But when a supporter asked him about the U.S. election result on Thursday, Bolsonaro responded: "But has it finished, have the elections already finished?,” according to Reuters.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
North Korean state media has refrained from making mention of the U.S. election.
As a matter of course, the North Korean government restricts the flow of information on political freedoms elsewhere.
Whereas Trump claims to have enjoyed a “special friendship” with Kim, meeting with him thrice and engaging in diplomatic talks, Biden’s election could be an unwelcome development for Pyongyang. North Korean state media has said Biden deserves “merciless punishment” for insulting the country’s dignity.
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa
Moving past the Trump presidency might prove awkward for Jansa, who prematurely congratulated Trump last week and has doubled down since.
“It’s pretty clear that American people have elected @realDonaldTrump and @Mike_Pence for #4moreyears. More delays and facts denying from [the mainstream media], bigger the final triumph for #POTUS,” Jansa wrote on Twitter last week.
He has shown no indication that he will follow other European Union leaders in acknowledging a Biden win and has instead continued to cast doubts on the election outcome, retweeting news reports on the recount of votes in Georgia and a video clip of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying, “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
This report has been updated.
Isabelle Khurshudyan in Moscow, Simon Denyer in Tokyo, Terrence McCoy in Rio de Janeiro, Gerry Shih in Taipei, Eva Dou in Seoul and Kareem Fahim in Istanbul contributed to this report.