Washington/Moscow: President Joe Biden has said that he believes Vladimir Putin is a killer with no soul — and vowed that the Russian leader soon “will pay a price” for interfering in the 2020 U.S. election and trying to boost the re-election chances of Donald Trump.
In an interview that aired Wednesday on Good Morning America, Biden said he warned Putin last month, in his first call to the Russian president after taking office, that he would retaliate if that meddling was confirmed.
On Tuesday, the U.S. National Intelligence Council released a report which concluded that Putin authorized intelligence assets to promote misinformation during the 2020 election cycle about Biden through U.S. media and people close to Trump.
“He will pay a price,” Biden said of Putin.
The Biden administration earlier this month imposed an array of sanctions on high-ranking Russian officials, who include Putin’s deputy chiefs of staff, for the poisoning and subsequent imprisonment of Alexey Navalny, a leader of the opposition to Putin.
Although Navalny survived his poisoning, a slew of Putin critics have been killed or died suspiciously.
When Biden was asked if he believes Putin is a killer, the president replied, “I do.”
Biden also confirmed prior reports that he personally told Putin in 2011, while serving as U.S. vice president, that Putin does not “have a soul.”
Biden’s strong words about his Russian counterpart stand in sharp contrast to Trump, who for years in office refused to criticize Putin for interfering in the 2016 election, or to even concede that it happened, as repeated investigations have found.
President Putin retorted on Thursday that it takes one to know one after Biden’s killer remark. Moscow has also recalled its US ambassador for consultations a day after the Biden interview.
Russia is preparing to be hit by a new round of U.S. sanctions in the coming days over that alleged meddling as well as over an alleged hack.
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.
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 key nuclear arms pact with Russia after he took office in January. 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.