The White House shut down Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to President Joe Biden for a live chat, which came after the president agreed with the assertion that Putin was a “killer” in an earlier interview.
“We are confident that we can continue to look for ways where there’s a mutual interest–mutual national interest,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at the White House on Thursday. ”But the president is not going to hold back, clearly, when he has concerns, whether it is with words or actions.”
Biden held an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, where Biden was asked if he believed Putin was “a killer.” “I do,” the president said in response, adding that Putin will “pay a price” after a U.S. intelligence report released earlier this week suggested that the Kremlin attempted to interfere in the 2020 election.
In an interview with reporters on Thursday, Putin said that he wanted to hold a live debate with Biden as soon as Friday. He was responding to the “killer” comment. Before that, the Russian leader told Biden that it “takes one to know one” but wished the president “good health” without any “irony or joke.”
Psaki added that Biden does not “have anything to report to you in terms of a future meeting. The president will, of course, be in Georgia tomorrow and quite busy.”
Russia’s ambassador to Washington D.C. was recalled in retaliation, while some Russian officials demanded that Biden apologize to Putin for the remark.
While announcing the decision to recall its ambassador, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement: “The most important thing for us is to identify ways of rectifying Russia-U.S. relations, which have been going through hard times as Washington has, as a matter of fact, brought them to a blind alley.”
Added Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov to state media: “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.”
The Biden administration has placed sanctions on several Russian officials and businesses earlier in March after it was determined by the U.S. intelligence community that the Kremlin was responsible for the poisoning of opposition activist Alexei Navalny, who is currently jailed in Russia.
Biden, in the ABC interview, did not elaborate on what punitive actions would be taken against Russia, only telling Stephanopoulos: “You’ll see shortly.”