Biden’s tough-guy flexing at ‘soulless killer’ Putin would be funny if the consequences weren’t so serious
Thursday March 18, 2021
Joe Biden’s effort to label Vladimir Putin as a “soulless killer” is the latest in a series of fact-free allegations that define US-Russian relations today. The real aim is to make Biden look like the strong leader he isn’t.
Former President Donald Trump was fond of bragging about how tough he was when it came to Russia. “There’s never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been,” Trump crowed in 2018. He wasn’t wrong—according to Daniel Vajdich, a senior analyst with the Atlantic Council, the Trump administration was “much tougher on Russia than any in the post-Cold War era.” Despite the tough reality of his Russian policy, however, Trump was not opposed to bettering relations, publicly proclaiming that “it would be great if we could get along with Russia.”
As for his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump has noted that “I like Putin, he likes me.” Indeed, Marina Gross, the State Department interpreter who worked on many of the calls between Trump and Putin, has reportedly said that “listening to their conversations often felt like eavesdropping on two friends chatting in a bar.” Indeed, Trump famously bristled at Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, who said of the Russian president, “Putin’s a killer.” Trump responded, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”
President Biden has made it clear that he plans to deal with Russia in a far more aggressive manner than his predecessor. Moreover, there would be no more talk about “friendship” or “getting along.” In a recent interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Biden was given a bite from the same apple O’Reilly had offered Trump. “So, you know Vladimir Putin,” Stephanopoulos asked. “You think he’s a killer?” Without a moment’s hesitation, Biden responded, “Mmm-hmm, I do.”