Biden believes Putin is a 'killer' and says he'll 'pay a price' for attacking dissidents and trying to meddle in the 2020 race

Biden believes Putin is a 'killer' and says he'll 'pay a price' for attacking dissidents and trying to meddle in the 2020 race
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during their meeting in Moscow March 10, 2011.REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin
  • Biden told ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos he believes Putin is a "killer."
  • He added that Putin will "pay a price" for meddling in the 2020 election and attacking opponents.
  • Biden also recalled a previous conversation in which he told the Russian leader he doesn't have a soul.

President Joe Biden pledged in an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that Russian President Vladimir Putin "is going to pay" for meddling in the 2020 presidential election.

The pre-taped interview aired on Wednesday and came after the release of a US intelligence report, which found that Russia directed a covert influence campaign aimed at "denigrating" Biden and boosting then-President Donald Trump's reelection chances.

"President Putin authorized operations during the election to denigrate you, support President Trump, undermine our elections, divide our society," Stephanopoulos said to Biden. "What price must he pay?"
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"He will pay a price," Biden said.

"We had a long talk, he and I," he added, referring to his January 26 phone call with the Russian leader. "I know him relatively well. And our conversation started off, I said, 'I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.'"

"You said you know he doesn't have a soul," Stephanopoulos said, referring to a previous conversation Biden and Putin had.
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"I did say that to him, yes," the president replied. "And his response was: 'We understand one another.'"

"I wasn't being a wise guy. I was alone with him in his office, that's how it came about," Biden continued, adding that the conversation took place after former President George Bush famously said in 2001 - in comments he later regretted - that he "was able to get a sense of [Putin's] soul." "I said, 'I looked in your eyes, and I don't think you have a soul,'" Biden recalled in his Wednesday interview. "He looked back and he said we understand each other."
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Stephanopoulos also asked the US president if he believes Putin is a "killer."

"Mhm," Biden said. "I do."

Asked what price Putin should pay for his brutal attacks on independent journalists, dissidents, and political opponents - most recently the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny - Biden said: "The price he's going to pay, you'll see shortly."
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Earlier this month, the US announced sanctions in coordination with the European Union against senior Russian officials over Navalny's attempted poisoning.

He was treated in a German hospital after being poisoned by the nerve agent Novichok and returned to Russia in January despite repeatedly being threatened with arrest. Moments after he landed, Navalny was apprehended and is now being kept in a notoriously harsh Russian prison.

Biden stressed during his ABC News interview that it's important to "be able to walk and chew gum at the same time."
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"There are places where it's in our mutual interest to work together. That's why I renewed the START Agreement with him," he said, referring to the US-Russia nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

"That's overwhelmingly in the interest of humanity, that we diminish the prospect of a nuclear exchange," Biden added.

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