In March, George Stephanopoulos of ABC News asked Biden: “So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he’s a killer? Biden responded: “I do.” In the NBC interview, Putin chuckled when asked about the characterization, then said he is used to facing “attacks from all kinds of angles.” He steered clear of criticizing Biden, saying that “harsh rhetoric” is part of U.S. political culture.
When NBC reporter Keir Simmons named specific opponents of Putin’s who have been killed in recent years, the Russian president’s response was somewhat less sanguine. “I don’t want to come across as being rude, but this looks like some kind of indigestion except that it’s verbal indigestion,” he said, before dismissing the deaths as a list of people who “suffered and perished at different points in time for various reasons, at the hands of different individuals.”
Biden has said that he wants to use Wednesday’s summit to communicate to Russia “that there are consequences for violating the sovereignty of democracies in the United States and Europe and elsewhere.” Topics expected to be raised at the meeting include cyberattacks on American targets, the Syrian civil war, election interference and Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine.