Russian President Vladimir Putin reacted to President Joe Biden calling him a “killer,” challenging the American counterpart to take part in a live debate, but the White House is refusing to take up this challenge, saying the president is “quite busy.”
“I’ve just thought of this now,” Putin told a Russian state television reporter. “I want to propose to President Biden to continue our discussion, but on the condition that we do it basically live, as it’s called. Without any delays and directly in an open, direct discussion. It seems to me that would be interesting for the people of Russia and for the people of the United States.”
“I don’t want to put this off for long. I want to go to the taiga this weekend to relax a little,” Putin added. “So we could do it tomorrow or Monday. We are ready at any time convenient for the American side.”
Prior to challenging the president to a debate, Putin’s first response towards Biden’s comment said his remarks sounds like playground talks.
“You know, I remember, in childhood, when we were arguing with each other in the courtyard, we would say, ‘I know you are, but what am I,'” Putin said. “And that’s no accident. It’s not just a childish saying. There is a very deep meaning in that.”
The Russian president also said he wished Biden “good health.”
“I would say to him: ‘Be well.’ I wish him good health. I say that without any irony, without jokes,” Putin said.
Biden started a rising diplomatic tension with his remarks in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos Wednesday when he said he thought that the Russian President was a “killer.”
Stephanopoulos in the Wednesday interview asked Biden if he thinks Putin “is a killer.”
“Mmm-hmm, I do,” Biden said in response.
The president later said that Putin would “pay a price” for meddling in American elections, referring to a DNI unclassified report released earlier this week.
The declassified DNI report revealed that it was Russia, not China that had ordered efforts to try to influence the 2020 presidential election to undermine Biden’s campaign in order to boost former President Donald Trump’s re-election bid. Earlier this month, the Biden administration ordered sanctions on Russian officials for the poisoning and jailing of the Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.
Following Biden’s “killer” remark that triggered a furious barrage of criticism from the Russian government and in response took the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov back to Moscow for “consultations” over the comments.
The Russian embassy in Washington D.C. announced that Antonov would be leaving Saturday. Antonov’s when arriving will be holding a meeting with the foreign ministry in Moscow to “discuss ways to rectify Russia-U.S. ties that are in crisis.”
The last time Russia recalled its ambassador for consultations was reportedly in 1998 in protest over the bombing of Iraq ordered by former President Bill Clinton.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Biden’s remarks confirm for them that he has no interest in improving relations with Russia.
“I’ll say only that these remarks by the U.S. president are very bad. He definitely doesn’t want to normalize relations with our country. And we’ll be acting based precisely on this premise,” Peskov said.
Following Putin calling for the 1-on-1 challenge, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked whether the president would partake in such debate or discussion with the Russian president, to which she said probably unlikely such event would occur because Biden is “quite busy.”
“I’ll have to get back to you if that is something we’re entertaining. I would say that the president already had a conversation with President Putin,” Psaki said, noting Biden still had other world leaders to talk with. “The president, of course, will be in Georgia tomorrow and quite busy.”