In a humiliating moment for the White House, Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected an offer to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden in the near future amid rising tensions in Eastern Europe and sharp rhetoric from Washington.
According to Breitbart, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has indicated the Russian leader is cool to Biden’s proposal to have a summit in the coming months.
“No, a bilateral meeting of course cannot be organized that quickly,” Peskov said.
Putin snubs Biden
Biden has taken an aggressive tone with his Russian counterpart, who he recently called a “killer” while vowing to make Russia “pay a price.”
Biden’s unflagging support of Ukraine is another point of tension. The country recently threatened to take back Crimea from Russia — which annexed the peninsula in 2014 — presumably with NATO’s backing. Russia has been mobilizing in the region, further raising fears of conflict, as the New York Post notes.
In a phone call Tuesday, Biden warned Putin to “de-escalate” in Ukraine while inviting him to establish more diplomatic ties at a future summit. But that overture was complicated when Biden imposed new sanctions on Russia on Thursday and expelled Russian diplomats in response to alleged interference in U.S. elections and a cyberattack on the federal government.
According to NBC News, Biden said he wants “a stable, predictable relationship” and would like to avoid “a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia.”
But the U.S. president’s sanctions seemed to provoke just such a cycle: Russia responded by kicking out 10 American diplomats and banning members of Biden’s Cabinet from entering its borders, including senior domestic policy adviser Susan Rice, FBI Director Chris Wray, and Attorney General Merrick Garland, according to Axios.
Anticipating the sanctions, Peskov said they would “in no way help the likelihood of such a meeting taking place — that can be stated unambiguously.”
The tit-for-tat comes after Biden turned down a humiliating challenge from Putin to a live, one-on-one debate, Breitbart notes. Biden’s staff said he was too busy.
“I want to propose to President Biden to continue our discussion, but on the condition that we do it basically live, as it’s called,” Putin said, according to Breitbart.
Biden’s saber-rattling comes as a story about Russia placing bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan that Biden and his allies enthusiastically promoted to attack former President Donald Trump unraveled, with U.S. intelligence now saying they had only “low to moderate” confidence it was true, as Fox reports.