In the run-up to their meeting in Geneva, Biden fell silent when asked if he still thinks Putin is a “killer.”
Strong Words For Populism (Not So Much For Putin).
President Joe Biden arrived in Brussels on Sunday evening, kicking off the final three-day leg of his international trip, set to include two days of summits with NATO and the European Union, plus a highly-anticipated, in-depth series of meetings with Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Geneva.
On Monday, Biden met with NATO leaders and separately with Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Biden and Erdogan met amid tensions over U.S. support for Kurdish fighters in Syria, U.S. sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of a Russian weapons system, and Biden’s designation of the Ottoman-era killing and deportation of Armenians as a genocide. Biden’s meeting with Erdogan was followed by a short, tight-lipped press availability that provided no information about the meeting, but the president said later that he was “confident we’ll make real progress with Turkey,” while Erdogan said, “There is no problem in Turkey-U.S. relations that cannot be solved.”
Biden held a NATO press conference on Monday night in Brussels reviewing the events of the day.
- Biden stressed that Americans back home should get vaccinated: “We’ve had enough pain.”
- He expressed that “the U.S. commitment to Article 5 of the NATO Treaty is rock solid and unshakable”—referring to the principle that an attack on any NATO ally is an attack on all—and that America will reinforce its commitment to international alliances on his watch.
- Biden railed against “phony” populism: “We have to root out corruption that siphons off our strength; guard against those who would stoke hatred and division for political gain—this phony populism; invest in strengthening the institutions that underpin and safeguard our cherished democratic values, as well as protecting the free press and independent judiciaries. All of those run the agenda.”
- On whether Biden still believes Putin is a “killer”—after a very long silence: “Well, look, I mean, he has made clear that—the answer is: I believe he has, in the past, essentially acknowledged that he was—there were certain things that he would do or did do . . . I don’t think it matters a whole lot, in terms of this next meeting we’re about to have.”
Asked if Vladimir Putin is a “killer,” Joe Biden weirdly laughs and says “I don't think it matters a whole lot" pic.twitter.com/1RBRiizKUf
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) June 14, 2021
Don’t forget: Biden has long claimed to have told Putin in 2011 that Putin does not “have a soul” and affirmed this spring that he considers Putin a “killer”—but faced with finally meeting as president with the leader he’s vowed to hold accountable, Biden dismissed his earlier opinion as irrelevant.