Putin offers Biden public talks after U.S. president says he thinks he is a killer

REUTERS/Leah Millis

By Andrew Osborn and Tom Balmforth

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he and U.S. President Joe Biden should have talks broadcast live in coming days after Biden said he thought the Russian leader was a killer and diplomatic ties sank to a new post-Cold War low.

Putin, speaking on television, scathingly responded to Biden’s remarks with the comment that it takes one to know one.

In an ABC News interview broadcast on Wednesday that prompted Russia to recall its Washington ambassador for consultations, Biden said “I do” when asked if he believed Putin was a killer.

Putin said he had last spoken to Biden by phone at the U.S. president’s request and that he now proposed they had another conversation, on Friday or Monday, to be held by video-link and broadcast live.

“I want to offer President Biden to continue our discussion but on the condition that we do it live, online, without any delays but in an open, direct discussion,” Putin said when asked in a television interview about Biden’s comments. The two leaders last spoke by telephone on Jan. 26 days after Biden took office.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Thursday said Biden had no regrets about calling Putin a killer and swatted away a question about Putin’s request for an immediate call in public.

“I would say the president already had a conversation with President Putin, even as there are more world leaders that he has not yet engaged with,” Psaki said. “The president will of course be in Georgia tomorrow and quite busy.”

Putin said he was ready to discuss Russia’s relations with the United States and other issues such as regional conflicts “tomorrow or, say, on Monday,” adding that he will be having a weekend break somewhere in Russia’s Taiga.

In his comments, Biden also described Putin as having no soul, and said he would pay a price for alleged Russian meddling in the November 2020 U.S. presidential election, something the Kremlin denies.

Russia is preparing to be hit by a new round of U.S. sanctions in the coming days over the U.S. allegations of election interference and hacking. In a highly unusual move following Biden’s interview, Moscow recalled its ambassador to the United States for consultations.

Suggesting Biden was hypocritical in his remarks, Putin said that every state had to contend with “bloody events” and added Biden was accusing the Russian leader of something he was guilty of himself.

“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.

“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,” he said.

Shortly before Putin’s remarks, his spokesman said Biden’s comments showed he had no interest in fixing ties with Moscow, which are strained by everything from Syria to Ukraine to Russia’s jailing of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

Biden was quick to extend a nuclear arms pact with Russia after he took office. But his administration has said it will take a tougher line with Moscow than Washington did during Donald Trump’s term in office, and engage only when there is a tangible benefit for the United States.

“These are really bad remarks by the U.S. president. He has clearly shown that he doesn’t want to improve relations with our country,” said Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. “We will now proceed from that.”

“Of course, this hasn’t happened before in history,” Peskov told reporters, commenting on Biden’s remarks.

Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy chairman of parliament’s upper house, 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 (by Biden) is not allowed from the mouth of a statesman of such a rank,” he added, calling it a watershed moment in U.S.-Russia ties.

Reuters

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