Biden vs. Putin: Will the Verbal Confrontation between the Two Presidents Impact the Future of U.S.-Russia Relations?

On Tuesday, March 16, the U.S. declassified an intelligence report, which bolstered already existing allegations that the Kremlin had interfered in the 2020 U.S. presidential elections by disseminating unsubstantiated accusations against Joe Biden with an aim to boost Donald Trump’s re-election. As the Democratic House intelligence chair Adam Schiff stated, “through proxies, Russia ran a successful intelligence operation that penetrated [Trump’s] inner circle.”

On Wednesday, March 17, following release of the above report, Biden gave an interview to ABC News, during which the president replied affirmatively to the question posed by Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos asking if Putin was a killer. Biden also declared that the Russian president would “pay a price” for his continuous interference in the U.S. domestic affairs. The Kremlin responded by recalling its ambassador to Washington later that evening, stating that an “irreversible deterioration of relations” was possible. On the next day, March 18, during his interview to Russia 24, Putin replied to Biden’s earlier comment about the Russian leader being a killer with the following phrase: “It takes one to know one,” wishing the U.S. president health and well-being in the upcoming future.

It is important to note that the above-mentioned does not constitute the first case of confrontation between Biden and Putin. In 2011, when Biden was vice-president to Barack Obama and Putin – prime-minister to Dmitry Medvedev, the two met at the Kremlin. During the meeting, Biden said: “Mr. Prime Minister, I am looking into your eyes, and I do not think you have a soul,” to which Putin replied with a smile on his face: “We understand one another.”

However, unlike 2011, both men are currently serving as presidents of their respective countries and, for this very reason, the confrontation between the two has turned into a hot topic for discussion, producing mixed reactions among the western and Russian audiences. High Representative of the European Union Joseph Borrell, for instance, supported Biden’s statement, arguing that a number of prominent public figures had been persecuted and assassinated in Russia, and that Putin should be held responsible for these wrongdoings. By contrast, Dmitry Medvedev – Russia’s president in 2008-2012 and, presently, head of the country’s Security Council – commented that “time has not spared” the 78-year-old Biden, while the leader of the United Russia party Andrei Turchak assessed the U.S. president’s remarks as a reflection of “the U.S. political marasmus.”  

Despite a tense political climate, neither U.S., nor Russia plan to cease mutual cooperation efforts with regard to nuclear nonproliferation. Following Biden’s interview, the White House press secretary Jen Psaki asserted that the Biden administration would continue partnership with the Kremlin to stem Iran’s nuclear power program, in particular, and to encourage nuclear nonproliferation in the world, in general. Putin himself remarked that the political consciousness of the “American establishment” was formed and contextualized under “difficult conditions” such as colonization and slavery, which even today influence domestic and foreign policies of the States. However, he contended that the American political elite notwithstanding, the Kremlin would continue working relations with the White House as “there are many honest, decent, and sincere Americans who seek to live with Russians in peace and friendship.” 

With being embroiled in mutual accusations, on the one hand, and realizing the importance of strategic partnership regarding nuclear and arms control, on the other hand, no one knows for sure how the U.S.-Russia relations will develop. However, both American and Russian sides have formulated their views on this topic, which you can read in more detail by clicking on the reference links below.


Prepared by Tina Dolbaia

April 2021


Байден заявил, что Путин — убийца. Это вообще нормально для президента США? Раньше такое бывало? И что это значит для отношений между двумя странами? Отвечает историк Сергей Радченко (2021, March 18). Meduza. Retrieved April 7, 2021, from:

Isachenkov, V. & Lee, M. (2021, March 18). US-Russia ties nosedive after Biden-Putin tit-for-tat. AP. Retrieved from:

Лакстыгал, И. (2021, March 18). Путин ответил на слова Байдена в его адрес. Vedomosti. Retrieved from:

Позняков, А. (2021, March 20).  Путин против Байдена: Кто убедительнее? Euronews. Retrieved April 5, 2021, from:

Putin on Biden: Russian president reacts to US leader’s criticism (2021, March 18). BBC. Retrieved April 6, 2021, from:

Troianovski, A. (2021, March 18). Russia Erupts in Fury Over Biden’s Calling Putin a Killer. The New York Times. Retrieved from:

Walters, J. (2021, March 17). Biden warns that Putin will pay a price for interfering in 2020 US election. The Guardian. Retrieved from: