What lies behind Biden's harsh words for Putin?
Joe Biden has threatened Vladimir Putin with consequences for interfeing in the US election last November, as a US intelligence report has now confirmed. Putin will pay for his meddling, Biden said in an interview with ABC. When asked if he thought the Russian president was a killer, Biden replied "Yes, I do."
President wants to stop the West's disintegration
Biden clearly has no intention of buddying up to Putin, comments the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
“This is the reason why Putin himself approved measures that aim to help Trump in the election campaign. ... Putin was eager to see Trump re-elected because the latter's first term in office set 'important' accents from the Russian (and Chinese) perspective: American politics sank into chaos, Washington's relationships with its allies were shattered. Under Trump II, things would have continued like this. Biden, on the other hand, wants to stop the disintegration of the West. This includes standing up to its enemies.”
Don't burn all your bridges
The president must not adopt too harsch a tone, comments Polityka:
“In January, shortly after his inauguration, Biden had a phone conversation with Putin in which, as the White House later reported, he announced that he would react firmly to any unfriendly policies towards the US. ... At the same time, Biden stressed that he wanted to continue to cooperate with the Russians in certain areas. The two countries have already agreed to extend the Start nuclear arms reduction agreement. This not the only area where dialogue needs to take place. If Biden wants to revive the agreement with Iran, he needs Russia to cooperate. The question is whether tough rhetoric will help him in diplomatic negotiations.”
Sending a message to the Russian nomenklatura
Biden's declaration of war could pay off in the end, La Stampa believes:
“The Biden administration is firmly taking sides with the Navalny protest. Navalny's offensive has forced Putin to transform his regime from authoritarianism to dictatorship within just a few weeks. ... So the White House's frontal assault now threatens to raise the level of repression in Russia, hitting the very protest that America is supporting. But paradoxically, the repression could bring closer the end of a regime that doesn't have many resources, either economic or political. And that could be the real signal Biden is sending to Moscow. The addressees are the members of the Putin nomenklatura, who should realise that their leader has gone from being a solution to being a problem.”
The bitter truth
Biden's terse answer to the question of whether he thought Putin was a killer is the main topic of discussion in Russia. Echo of Moscow argues as follows:
“In the legal sense, of course, Putin is not a killer. He didn't shoot or stab anyone. There is no evidence that he gave orders for or even approved of such acts. This is a clear distinction between him and Stalin, incidentally. ... But Putin is the guarantor of the system that does all these things. The situation is getting worse every year - and who should we blame, if not the most important person in the country? But to say this out loud, even figuratively speaking, is dangerous in Russia. Biden, on the other hand, blurts it out like a cowboy, without any regard for decorum and formalities.”