Russian leader Vladimir Putin excused President Joe Biden’s belligerent behavior towards reporters following his meeting with Putin as the result of “jet lag” in remarks Thursday – and defended Biden’s cognitive abilities by deriding White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki as equally confused.
Putin praised Biden as a “professional” and attacked American media outlets as creating an image of the president had “has nothing to do with the reality” during remarks to Russian public administration graduates on Thursday, according to the Russian news agency TASS. The remarks were reportedly an expansion of Putin’s “impressions” of Biden from their first in-person meeting since Biden became president in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday.
The meeting, which lasted about three hours, resulted in no substantive agreements between the two leaders. Biden and Putin agreed to restore their respective ambassadors to their embassies and continue “dialogue” between Moscow and Washington in the future. A brief joint statement from the two celebrated Biden’s decision to extend the New START treaty, which limits nuclear weapons developed, for five years, four more than Putin had originally requested.
Putin reportedly did not make any significant policy observations during his remarks Thursday, instead focusing on Biden’s increasingly negative image in the United States as overwhelmed, exhausted, and weak in the face of the rigorous work the job of the presidential office requires.
“The image of President Biden portrayed by our and even by the American media has nothing to do with the reality,” Putin claimed. “He is on a long trip, he flew from overseas, having the so-called jet lag, the change of the time zones.”
Putin insisted that Biden was “fully in the know” of his surroundings and a “professional.”
The Russian strongman then attributed any confusion, lack of knowledge, or insufficient attention paid to important details not to any specific qualities that Biden may possess, but on the fact that he is an American, and Americans are too self-centered to bother with details on international issues. He used as his example Psaki, who he accused of often making incorrect statements.
“His press secretary is a young, educated and pretty woman. She is mixing things up all the time,” Putin said. “This is not because she is not enough educated or has a bad memory. Simply, you know when people think that some things are secondary, they don’t really fix their attention on this.”
“The Americans believe that nothing is more important than themselves,” Putin concluded.
While in her position for less than a year, Psaki has developed a track record for incorrect remarks, such as blaming the Chinese coronavirus pandemic for mounting national crime (crime rates fell at the beginning of the pandemic), claiming a fully vaccinated Biden was not wearing a mask outdoors despite ample video evidence, and dubious comments claiming that Biden’s physical fitness is so high that “he’s hard to keep up with.”
Conservative media observers noted on Wednesday that Biden used notes during the Putin meeting, something Putin said world leaders “all do.” Biden faced the most criticism, however, for berating CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins after she asked him why Biden appeared “so confident” that his meeting with Putin would improve his record on human rights, cyberattacks, and hostile intervention in neighboring states based solely on their one conversation that day.
“I’m not confident he’ll change his behaviour. What the hell — what do you do all the time?” Biden snapped. “When did I say I was confident?”
Biden later apologized, telling reporters, “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy.”
On the topics of the discussion with Putin, Biden also made a peculiar remark stating that he gave Putin a list of critical American infrastructure that he would appreciate if Russian cyberattackers do not target in the near future. The list appeared to be a reaction to a cyberattack on America’s Colonial Pipeline in May that resulted in widespread gasoline shortages along the eastern seaboard of the United States. Officials traced the attack, which reportedly netted the criminals millions of dollars, to a Russia-based hacking group.
While Biden’s remarks attracted the most attention in American media, given his status as the nation’s head of state, Putin also delivered an extensive press conference following his discussion with Biden featuring a barrage of strange accusations against the United States. Multiple reporters challenged Putin on the extensive list of human rights atrocities attributed to his regime and the ongoing persecution of political dissidents in Russia, most notably opposition leader and political prisoner Alexei Navalny. Putin refused to respond to the questions directly, instead ranting about “secret CIA prisons,” the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and the U.S. military facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Biden has not defended the Russian leader from accusations of “mixing up” facts as Putin did on Thursday.