Russian President Vladimir Putin has made U.S. President Joe Biden an offer he apparently can refuse: A live debate.
Earlier in the date the authoritarian Russian leader made the challenge to the U.S. president.
“I’ve just thought of this now,” Putin earlier told a Russian 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.”
The White House responded to the request for a live debate, which could even be hosted on Google Hangouts or Zoom, with a tailor-made excuse: Biden is “quite busy.”
A glance at Biden’s calendar for Thursday (the White House refuses to provide detailed schedules in advance) shows three whole briefings. Must be exhausting to listen to advisers for three hours.
Biden had provoked the challenge by labeling Putin a “killer” in a sit-down interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that aired Wednesday. Biden also promised that Putin will “pay a price” for election meddling.
“He will pay a price. We had a long talk, he and I, I know him relatively well,” Biden said. “And the conversation started off, I said, ‘I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.’”
Asked by Stephanopoulos about his remark that he ‘did not believe the Russian president had a soul,’ Biden doubled down on the claim.
“I did say that to him, yes, and his response was, ‘We understand one another.’ I wasn’t being a wise guy, I was alone with him in his office and that’s how it came about,” he said.
Earlier on Thursday, Putin replied with what some are perceiving as a ‘veiled threat.’
NEW – "I wish you good health,” Putin responds to Biden after the US president called the Russian president a "killer."pic.twitter.com/SUqxA3c5LF
— Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) March 18, 2021
My original translation from Russian to English aims to capture a bit more of the nuance than is being widely reported. Putin says not only once, but twice that he wants Biden to ‘be healthy.’
“I would simply say to him, ‘be healthy,'” Putin said. “I wish you good health. I say that without irony and not as a joke.”
Jen Psaki, at her White House press conference, said that Biden had no regrets about calling Putin a “killer.”
Jen Psaki says Biden has no regrets about calling Putin a "killer" pic.twitter.com/tKiIMpF6yE
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 18, 2021
Does Biden regret it now that Putin has exposed him as unable to even show up for a live-streamed debate?
You can be that Vladimir Putin doesn’t regret it.