Friday, 19 March 2021

Joe Biden says he will speak to Vladimir Putin 'at some point' as tensions escalated after he had no regrets in calling him a 'killer' and Russian leader offered to hold a zoom conversation to talk it out

 President Joe Biden said on Friday he will speak to Vladimir Putin 'at some point' after the Russian leader offered to hold an online chat with him to discuss rising tensions between the two nations.

'I'm sure we'll talk at some point,' Biden told reporters at the White House before he left for a trip to Atlanta.

His comments came after Russia reacted in a fury following harsh comments from the American president in an interview with ABC News. In the interview, Biden didn't hold back, calling Putin a 'killer' and describing his Russian counterpart as without a soul.


Biden's words led to a back-and-forth tit tat between American and Russian officials, each snapping at the other and putting the blame on their opponent. 


President Joe Biden said he will speak to Vladimir Putin \'at some point\' after the Russian leader offered to hold an online chat

President Joe Biden said he will speak to Vladimir Putin 'at some point' after the Russian leader offered to hold an online chat

And the White House doubled down on Thursday, saying Biden had no regrets about his strong words. 

'No, the president gave a direct answer to a direct question,' White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded when asked if Biden regrets his comments, which the Russians saw as an insult. 

In return, the Russian president upped the stakes, offering to hold public talks via an online method - such as Zoom - with Biden and directing his foreign ministry to reach out to the Americans. 

Psaki responded Biden is 'quite busy.'

The White House press secretary pointed out Biden called Putin in January as part of a series of calls he made to world leaders after his election. 

'I would say that the president already had a conversation already with President Putin even as there are more world leaders that he has not yet engaged with,' Psaki said.   

And in a provocative move, Putin appeared on stage Thursday during a concert marking the seventh anniversary of Crimea annexation, despite strong condemnation of the 'occupation' by the Group of Seven. 

Meanwhile, Putin has been snapping back at Biden since the president made his comments in an interview with ABC News, including wishing his American counterpart 'good health' and recalling the Russian ambassador from the United States.

Putin made the sinister quip in an interview on state TV. Western officials have accused Putin ordering the assassination attempt of his most vocal domestic critic, Aleksei Navalny, which Putin has denied.

And Putin gave his own strong response to Biden's 'killer' accusation, saying that 'it takes one to know one.'

'We always see in another person our own qualities and think that he is the same as us,' Putin said.  

In the interview, he criticized Biden for America's past atrocities, including the slaughter of Native Americans and holding black people as slaves, and argued that has led to current racial tensions in the United States. 

'Otherwise where would the Black Lives Matter movement come from,' Putin argued.  

He then offered his own message to the American president. 

'I would say to him: I wish you good health,' Putin said. 'I say that without irony and not as a joke.' 

Psaki declined to comment on Putin's comments to Russian state TV and what they might mean. 

'I've been doing this long enough not to try to get in the mind of President Putin,' Psaki, who served as a spokesperson in the State Department during the Obama administration, said.

WH says Biden has 'no regrets' about calling Putin a 'killer'
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The White House said President Joe Biden has no regrets in calling Vladimir Putin a \'killer\'

The White House said President Joe Biden has no regrets in calling Vladimir Putin a 'killer'

White House press secretary Jen Psaki\u00A0warned the United States would not \'hold back\' in words or actions when it comes to the Kremlin

White House press secretary Jen Psaki warned the United States would not 'hold back' in words or actions when it comes to the Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin, seen above speaking during the concert marking the seventh anniversary of the reunification of the Crimea with Russia, offered to hold a public call with Biden amid escalating tensions

Russian President Vladimir Putin, seen above speaking during the concert marking the seventh anniversary of the reunification of the Crimea with Russia, offered to hold a public call with Biden amid escalating tensions

Putin says 'it takes one to know one' after Biden's killer remark
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Russia is demanding an apology from the United States for Biden's 'killer' comment. The provocative comments prompted the Kremlin to make the highly unusual move on Wednesday to recall Anatoly Antonov, its ambassador to the US, for urgent consultations over the future of US-Russia ties. 

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it was a 'very bad statement by the U.S. president' that made it clear that 'he doesn't want to normalize relations.'

'He clearly does not want to improve relations with our country, and we will be proceeding based precisely on this,' Peskov told reporters on a conference call on Thursday.  'There hasn't been anything like this in history.'

In an ABC News interview, Biden said 'I do' when asked if he believed the Russian president was a killer and promised his counter part in the Kremlin would pay a price for alleged Russian meddling in the 2020 presidential election, something the Kremlin denies. 

Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy chairman of parliament's upper house, said Biden's comments were unacceptable, would inevitably worsen already bad ties, and ended any hope in Moscow of a change of U.S. policy under a new U.S. administration.

He said Moscow's recall of its ambassador was the only reasonable step to take in the circumstances.

'I suspect it will not be the last one if no explanation or apology follows from the American side,' Kosachyov said in a Facebook post.

'This kind of assessment is not allowed from the mouth of a statesman of such a rank. This kind of statement is not acceptable under any circumstances,' he added, calling it a watershed moment in US-Russia ties. 

Meanwhile Artur Chilingarov, a pro-Kremlin lawmaker in the lower house of parliament, called for a 'tough reaction' from Moscow in comments made to Russia's Ekho Moskvy radio station. 

The comments come after the White House has spent weeks telegraphing a tougher posture toward Russia under a Biden administration – and Moscow has once again bristled at accusations that it serves as a 'malign' influence in global affairs. 

Fueling the rising tensions is a startling new assessment by U.S. intelligence that lays out Russia's campaign to influence the 2020 elections – on the heels of the Treasury Department slapping sanctions on officials as retaliation for the poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny with a chemical agent. Among those hit with sanctions was the director of Russia's foreign intelligence service, the FSB. 

And the comments mark the latest time when the new Biden team has sought to draw a sharp line on Russia distinguishing it from former President Donald Trump – who repeatedly praised Putin and even appeared to take Putin's side when he denied allegations of election interference during their infamous summit in Helsinki. 

Putin says he wants to hold open talks with Biden
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Russian President Vladimir Putin wished Joe Biden \'good health\' in what was seen as a veiled threat to U.S. president

Russian President Vladimir Putin wished Joe Biden 'good health' in what was seen as a veiled threat to U.S. president

Joe Biden said in a sit-down with ABC News that aired Wednesday morning that Russia would \'pay a price\' for interfering in the 2020 U.S. election

Joe Biden said in a sit-down with ABC News that aired Wednesday morning that Russia would 'pay a price' for interfering in the 2020 U.S. election

Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy chairman of parliament\'s upper house, said Biden\'s comments were unacceptable in a Facebook post

Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy chairman of parliament's upper house, said Biden's comments were unacceptable in a Facebook post

Despite Trump's repeated efforts to forge better ties with Moscow even after its election hacking, his administration tightened sanctions on Russia under laws enacted after his election meant to add pressure to sanctions already in place following Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Biden made his comment about the 'price' Putin would pay just after the U.S. Director of National Intelligence released a report that assessed Russian intelligence officials fed disinformation to Donald Trump allies about the Bidens during the 2020 campaigns as part of an election influence effort. 

It even said proxies for Putin himself pushed 'misleading or 'unsubstantiated' allegations about Biden during the campaign. Some of those attacks were amplified by President Trump, who regularly went after Biden for 'corruption' and brought up Hunter Biden's dealings in Ukraine, and who the intel report assessed Russia preferred in the election. 

'Our administration is going to take a different approach in our relationship to Russia than the prior administration,' Psaki said in her briefing on Wednesday, pointing to Biden's comments in the interview with ABC News. 

Biden not only ripped into Putin but vowed the Russian strongman would \'pay a price\' for alleged election interfering

Biden not only ripped into Putin but vowed the Russian strongman would 'pay a price' for alleged election interfering

Meanwhile Russia made the startling move of recalling its ambassador to the United States. 

'The Russian ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, has been invited to come to Moscow for consultations conducted with the aim of analyzing what should be done and where to go in the context of ties with the United States,' according to a statement by Russia's foreign ministry. 

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blamed the U.S. for bringing bilateral ties to a 'dead end,' adding that 'we are interested in preventing their irreversible degradation, if the Americans are aware of the associated risks.' 

Russian officials now say they will consult with its Washington envoy on the Kremlin's ties with the U.S. but stressed it wanted to prevent an 'irreversible deterioration' in relations. 

Even with the high stakes drama between nuclear powers, recalling an ambassador can sometimes be less than meets the eye.

In 1988, Russia recalled its ambassadors to the U.S. and Great Britain to protest joint raids against Iraq. But it had little effect. 'Recalling an ambassador for consultations means absolutely nothing,' said former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jack Matlock. 'It's just a gesture.' he said as quoted in a lengthy thesis by Olivia McCaffrey: 'Silent Statecraft: The Revocation of Ambassadors as a Diplomatic Tool.'

Recalled: Russia\'s ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov was returned to Moscow for \'consultations\' after Joe Biden called Vladimir Putin a \'killer\'

Recalled: Russia's ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov was returned to Moscow for 'consultations' after Joe Biden called Vladimir Putin a 'killer'

The U.S. had already hinted that additional sanctions on Russians are coming before the release of the 15-page declassified version of the report.

Asked about Biden's 'killer' comment at the White House Wednesday, Psaki responded: 'I don't have anything more for you to provide analysis on that.'

She also defended Biden's posture, saying he 'does not hold back on his concerns about what we see as malign and problematic actions' by Russia. She listed election interference, reported bounties on U.S. troops, and the poisoning of Navalny. 

On August 20, 2020, Navalny was poisoned with a Novichock nerve agent. Navalny was flying into Moscow when he became extremely ill and was hospitalized in Omsk, Russia after an emergency landing. 

On August 20, 2020, arch Putin critic Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a Novichock nerve agent

On August 20, 2020, arch Putin critic Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a Novichock nerve agent

The opposition leader was transferred to a hospital in Berlin, Germany two days later - and ended up being hospitalized for more than a month. 

He was discharged on September 22. 

Russian prosecutors refused to open a criminal probe into Navalny's poisoning, claiming there was no evidence a crime had been committed. 

Navalny returned to Russia after fleeing the country following his poisoning. His conviction and sentencing, which followed his claims of evidence showing corruption by Putin, led to nationwide protests. 

On Wednesday the Commerce Department said it was ratcheting up sanctions on some Russian exports in response to Navalany's poisoning. They related to aviation and space equipment.  

It tightened sanctions put in place following the 2018 poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer in Great Britain. 

'He's not going to hold back on his direct communications,' Psaki said, 'nor is he going to hold back publicly. And we have still found ways to work together on areas where we have mutual interests.' 

Kremlin announces Russia is taking measures before US sanctions
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Biden lashed out at the Kremlin in an interview that aired Wednesday morning. 'He will pay a price,' Biden told ABC News host George Stephanopoulos, without offering specifics.

'So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he is a killer?' Stephanopoulos asked Biden.

He responded: 'Uh-huh, I do.'

A bit earlier, the ABC anchor pointed out: 'You said you know he doesn't have a soul.'

'I did say that to him, yes,' the president affirmed.

'And his response was, 'We understand one another.' I wasn't being a wise guy. I was alone with him in his office. That's how it came about,' he described.

'It was when President Bush said he looked in his [Putin's] eyes and saw his soul. I said, 'I looked in your eyes and I don't think you have a soul.' He looked back and said, 'We understand each other.''

Biden noted: 'We had a long talk, he and I. I know him relatively well and the conversation started off, I said, 'I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred then be prepared.' 

When pushed on what the consequences would be, the president said: 'The price he's going to pay, well, you'll see shortly.'

Biden said he wouldn't reveal exactly what consequences he would levy, but did indicate it is in America and Russia's 'interest to work together.'

\'We had a long talk, he and I. I know him relatively well,\' Biden said of his Russian counterpart, adding that he said during the talk: \'\'I looked in your eyes and I don\'t think you have a soul.\' He looked back and said, \'We understand each other\'\'

'We had a long talk, he and I. I know him relatively well,' Biden said of his Russian counterpart, adding that he said during the talk: ''I looked in your eyes and I don't think you have a soul.' He looked back and said, 'We understand each other''

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