“It is the one who says it who is!” : we summarize the verbal jousts between Biden and Putin in four acts

The Russian president proposed Thursday to his American counterpart a discussion broadcast live, after several rather un-diplomatic statements on both sides. He has not yet received a response from the White House.

The relationship between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin does not present itself under the best of auspices. Two months after his inauguration, the new President of the United States has engaged in tense discussions with his counterpart in the Kremlin in recent days. With, to ignite the powder, this “yes” of the American president, Wednesday, March 17, in response to a question from a journalist asking him if he thought that the Russian president was a  “killer” . What to throw a cold.

“It is the one who says it who is!” replied Vladimir Putin Thursday, in a schoolyard atmosphere, offering Joe Biden a discussion broadcast live in the coming days. At the same time, Moscow  recalled its ambassador to Washington , an unprecedented gesture of mistrust since 1998. How did we come to this? Franceinfo summarizes this pass to you step by step.

Act 1: A fresh relationship from the election of Biden

While many world leaders congratulated Joe Biden in the days following the US presidential election on November 4, Vladimir Putin is one of the few to have waited for the vote of the American electoral college on December 15, believing that the results, contested by Donald Trump, were previously too uncertain.

Emphasizing his  “disagreements”  with Washington in his message, he nevertheless displayed, in his speech, a desire for collaboration with the United States. When one of his ministers called the Biden administration  “Russophobic” in December, Vladimir Putin was more measured, believing that Russian-American relations would not become more difficult after the departure of Donald Trump. During the first days of the Biden presidency, Vladimir Putin also ratified the uncertain extension of the New Start treaty on the limitation of nuclear weapons between the two countries.

Facing him, Joe Biden tried to mark his difference from his predecessor, accused of complacency, even collusion, with Moscow. “I clearly said to President Putin, in a very different way from my predecessor, that the time when the United States submitted to the aggressive acts of Russia (…) was over,” he said. it launched in February after its first telephone exchange with its Russian counterpart.

For his first foreign policy speech, the American president accused the Kremlin of “ [attacking] our democracies” , a few weeks after the discovery of a cyberattack targeting the United States and of which Russia is suspected to be at. ‘origin. Then Washington adopted sanctions against seven Russian officials, in response to the poisoning of Alexey Navalny, the main opponent of Vladimir Putin, convicted and imprisoned since.

Act 2: Biden calls Putin a “killer”

It is in this context that Joe Biden unleashed the ire of Russia, by qualifying Vladimir Poutine of  “killer” , Wednesday. The American president did not use the term himself, but answered “yes” to this question from journalist George Stephanopoulos on the American channel ABC: “Do you think he is a killer?”

“You will soon see the price he will pay” , added the new resident of the White House, without providing more details, nor explaining if his accusation related to the attempted assassination of Alexei Navalny, which Washington judges Moscow responsible. He also returned to his telephone interview with Vladimir Putin: “At the beginning of the conversation, I said to him: ‘I know you and you know me. If I come to the conclusion that you have done this, be ready’ “ , he reported.

Act 3: the Kremlin reacts strongly, the White House maintains

In Russia, the reactions obviously did not take long. “Putin is our president and an attack against him is an attack on our country,” Vyacheslav Volodin, president of the lower house of parliament and close to the head of state, wrote on his Telegram account on Wednesday. “The words of the American president are very bad, he clearly does not want to improve relations with our country” , engaged the spokesman of the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov. “It is from this principle that we are now going to start” .

The Russian presidency has also announced that it is recalling its ambassador to Washington, who will leave on Saturday for consultations “on ways to correct the Russian-American relationship ,  according to its embassy. This very symbolic diplomatic gesture had not happened since 1998.

Asked about the possibility that Joe Biden regrets his words, his spokesperson, Jen Psaki, assured that this was not the case:  “No, the president answered directly to a direct question.”  In contrast, the US State Department told AFP that it did not plan to recall its own ambassador to Moscow in response to the Russian decision.

Act 4: Putin offers Biden a live explanation

Silent since the day before, the Russian president replied Thursday, in two stages, in remarks broadcast by Russian television. First by brushing aside the accusations of Joe Biden, in a surprising form:  “It is the one who says it who is! It is not just a childish expression (…), we always see in the other our own characteristics “. “We will defend our own interests and we will work with [the Americans] on terms that will be advantageous to us ,  added Vladimir Poutine.

Then he issued a defiant invitation to his American counterpart: “I would like to suggest that President Biden continue our discussion, but on condition that we do it live, online as they say.”   The Russian president believes that  “it would be interesting for the Russian people, the American people and for many other countries” , and proposed that the public interview be held “without delay” , Friday or Monday. Friday afternoon (midday in Washington), the White House had not yet responded to his proposal.

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