White House press secretary Jen Psaki says Biden doesn't regret calling Putin a 'killer' after Russia recalls US ambassador

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki says Biden doesn't regret calling Putin a 'killer' after Russia recalls US ambassador
President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 relief package in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, March 15, 2021, in WashingtonPatrick Semansky/AP
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Joe Biden doesn't regret agreeing that Vladimir Putin is "a killer."
  • "The president gave a direct answer to a direct question," Psaki said of Biden's comment.
  • In a highly unusual move, the Russian government recalled its US ambassador from Washington on Wednesday.

President Joe Biden doesn't regret agreeing with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos during recent interview that Russian President Vladimir Putin is "a killer," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.

In a highly unusual move shortly after Biden's remarks aired on national television, the Russian government recalled its US ambassador from Washington, DC, citing "an irreversible deterioration in relations."

"It takes one to know one," Putin said when asked to comment on Biden's criticism of him.

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"The president gave a direct answer to a direct question," Psaki told a reporter who asked whether Biden regretted his remark.

Stephanopoulos asked Biden if he believed Putin is a "killer" during an interview that aired this week.

Biden replied, "Mm-hmm. I do."

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Biden also said Putin will "pay a price" for meddling in US elections in an attempt to boost former President Donald Trump and divide American voters.

"We had a long talk, he and I," Biden added, referring to his January 26 phone call with Putin. "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.'"

A slew of Russian politicians allied with Putin condemned Biden's remarks and demanded an apology. One lawmaker, Artur Chilingarov, called for a "tough reaction" to the US. Putin's press secretary called the "killer" remark a "very bad comment."

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On Wednesday, Psaki said the Biden administration would "take a different approach in our relationship to Russia than the prior administration," referring to President Donald Trump's controversial approach to Putin.

She added, "We are going to be straightforward and we are going to be direct in areas where we have concerns."

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