Throughout the 2020 election, candidate Joseph Biden was frequently critical of then-President Donald Trump’s perceived closeness to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
In the first presidential debate last September, Biden denounced the former president as “Putin’s puppy.”
"The fact is I have gone head to head with Putin and made it clear to him we aren't going to take any of his stuff," Biden said in the debate. "He’s Putin’s puppy. He still refuses to even say anything to Putin about the bounty on the heads of American soldiers.”
Now, with Biden in the White House, he’s continuing to spar with his Russian counterpart.
In his interview Wednesday night with ABC News, Biden referred to Putin as a “killer.”
ABC interviewer George Stephanopoulos asked Biden in the interview, “So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he's a killer?”
The president replied "Mmm hmm, I do,” before adding that it’s possible for his administration to "walk and chew gum at the same time for places where it's in our mutual interest to work together.” The U.S. extended a nuclear arms pact with the Russians shortly after Biden took office.
The comments followed the release of an intelligence report stating that Russia once again attempted to intervene in the 2020 presidential election. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence concluded that “Russian President Putin authorized, and a range for Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy, and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral processes and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the U.S.”
Putin, within hours, reacted to Biden’s ABC interview. Russia immediately recalled its ambassador to the United States for “consultations,” and then the Russian president made a statement.
“I remember in my childhood, when we argued in the courtyard with each other we used to say: it takes one to know one. And that’s not a coincidence, not just a children’s saying or joke. The psychological meaning here is very deep,” Putin said, per Reuters. “We always see our own traits in other people and think they are like how we really are. And as a result we assess (a person’s) activities and give assessments.”
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said Thursday that the statement in the ABC interview was “really bad remarks by the U.S. president. He has clearly shown that he doesn’t want to improve relations with our country.”
Meanwhile, per Forbes, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that the president does not regret using the language he did about the Russian president in the ABC interview. She described the answer as a “direct answer to a direct question.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.