Biden says Putin is a ‘killer,’ who will ‘pay a price’ for interfering in U.S. politics

March 19, 2021

Moscow responded angrily on March 18—a day after U.S. President Joe Biden labeled Russian President Vladimir Putin a “killer” during a TV interview and warned that Russia would “pay a price” for 2020 election interference, NBC News reports.

Following Biden’s comments, which aired in America on Wednesday and also were seen on Russian state TV, Moscow immediately recalled its ambassador to the United States for “consultations,” the foreign ministry said.

Asked about Biden’s comments on Thursday, Putin said he wished his counterpart in Washington good health and was saying that “without irony—but charged that the comments reflected America’s own troubled past.

While praising the American people, Putin said the legacy of slavery and the country’s treatment of Native Americans weighed heavily on its dealings abroad.

“In the history of every people, every state, there are a lot of hard, dramatic and bloody events. But when we evaluate other people or even other governments, we always look as if into the mirror. We always see ourselves in it,” Putin said.

“I remember when I was young and I got into fights with my friends, we always used to say ‘whoever calls names is called that himself,'” he added.

“And that’s not just a children’s joke. The meaning is quite deep psychologically. We always see our own qualities in another person and think that he/she is like ourselves. And coming from that, evaluate his/her actions and evaluate him/her overall.”

Putin’s response was delivered during a call with residents of Crimea marking the anniversary of its 2014 annexation from Ukraine. He added that Russia would still cooperate with the U.S. where it serves Moscow’s interests.

The comments came shortly after the Kremlin said Biden’s remarks suggested that he “definitely does not want to improve relations” between the two countries, NBC News noted.

“I won’t be wordy in reaction to this,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “I will only say that these are very bad statements by the U.S. president.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova did not cite specific reasons for recalling ambassador Anatoly Antonov on Wednesday, but Russia’s embassy in Washington, D.C. released its own comment early Thursday blaming “certain ill-considered statements of high-ranking U.S. officials” for putting the “already excessively confrontational relations under the threat of collapse.”

During Wednesday’s interview with ABC News Biden said that Russia would face consequences for meddling in last year’s presidential election after a declassified report from the U.S. national intelligence director’s office found earlier this week that Putin authorized influence operations to help former President Donald Trump in last November’s election.

“(Putin) will pay a price,” Biden said, when asked about the report. Biden did not disclose what price Putin could pay, only saying, “You will see shortly.”

The Kremlin had earlier dismissed the allegations in the report as baseless.

Asked if he thinks Putin is a killer, Biden said, “I do.”

Biden also confirmed that he once told Putin the Russian leader doesn’t “have a soul.” He said Putin responded to the comment, made during a visit to the Kremlin as vice president in 2011, by saying “We understand each other.”

The State Department said Wednesday that it was aware of Russia’s decision to recall its ambassador.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the Biden Administration will take a more straightforward and direct approach in its relationship with Russia than did former President Donald Trump.

Research contact: @NBCNews

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