Russian President Vladimir Putin targeted President Joe Biden’s “memory” during an NBC News interview that aired ahead of the meeting that the two world leaders are set to have.
“Well, President Biden says — one time when you met, you were inches away from each other, close to each other,” reporter Keir Simmons said. “And he said to you, ‘I’m looking in your eyes, and I can’t see a soul.’ And you said, ‘We understand each other.’ Do you remember that exchange?”
“As far as soul, I’m not sure. One has to think about what soul is. But I do not remember this particular part of our conversations, to be honest with you. I do not remember,” Putin said, later adding, “And— as far as soul goes, that’s something for the church.”
When later pressed on the same issue, Putin said, “I do not remember this, something wrong with my memory.”
“He says it was about it was 10 years ago, 10 years ago when he was vice president, he says,” the reporter said.
“Well, he probably has a good memory,” Putin responded.
Putin previously wished Biden “good health” in response to Biden calling Putin a killer. Putin went as far as to challenge Biden to live political discussion to be broadcast to the entire world, which Biden did not accept.
TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED VIA NBC NEWS:
KEIR SIMMONS: — President Biden. This will not be the Helsinki summit. President Biden is — is not President Trump. You once described President Trump as a bright person, talented. How would you describe President Biden?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well even now, I believe that former US president Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual talented individual, otherwise he would not have become US President. He is a colorful individual. You may like him or not. And, but he didn’t come from the U.S. establishment.
He had not been part of big time politics before, and some like it some don’t like it but that is a fact. President Biden, of course, is radically different from Trump because President Biden is a career man. He has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics.
He has been doing it for a great deal of years and I have already said that and that is an obvious fact. Just think of the number of years he spent in the Senate, and how many years he was involved in the matters of international politics and disarmament, virtually at the expert level.
That’s a different kind of person, and it is my great hope that yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any knee-jerk reactions on behalf of the sitting US president that we will be able to comply with certain rules of engagement, certain rules of communications and will be able to find points of contact and common points.
KEIR SIMMONS: Well, President Biden says — one time when you met, you were inches away from each other, close to each other. And he said to you, “I’m looking in your eyes, and I can’t see a soul.” And you said, “We understand each other.” Do you remember that exchange?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: As far as soul, I’m not sure. one has to think about what soul is. But I do not remember this particular part of our conversations, to be honest with you. I do not remember. We all, when we meet, when we get together, when we talk, when we work and— strive and achieve some solutions, we all proceed from the interests of our nations and our states. And this is fundamental and is the bedrock of all our actions and intentions. And— this is the driving force and the motive for organizing meetings of this kind. And— as far as soul goes, that’s something for the church.
KEIR SIMMONS: Yeah. You’re a religious man. President Biden is saying he told you to your face, “You don’t have a soul.” (LAUGH)
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not remember this.
KEIR SIMMONS: He says it was about —
VLADIMIR PUTIN: — something wrong with my memory.
KEIR SIMMONS: — it was 10 years ago, 10 years ago when he was vice president, he says.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, he probably has a good memory. I— I— I — I do not rule this out, but I don’t remember this. In personal encounters, people try to act appropriately. I do not remember any inappropriate elements of behavior on the part of my counterparts. I don’t think that anything like that — has happened. Perhaps he did say something, but I do not remember.
KEIR SIMMONS: Would you have felt that was an inappropriate thing to say?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, that depends on the context. It depends on what form they’re said in. One can say this in different ways. It can be presented in different ways. But generally, people meet up in order to establish a relationship and create an environment and conditions for joint work, with a view to achieving some kind of positive results.
If — one is — going to have a fight with somebody else — why bother and — have a meeting? One’s better off — looking into budget and social policies — domestically. We have many issues that we have to resolve. What’s the point then? It’s just — a waste of time.
Of course, one can and present this for domestic political consumption, which I believe is what has been done in — the U.S. in the last two years, where the U.S.-Russia relationship was sacrificed for the sake of a fierce political strife inside the U.S. We can see that.
We know it very well. We have been accused of all kinds of things: election interference, cyber attacks and so on and so forth. And not once, not once, not one time did they bother to produce any kind of evidence or proof. Just unfounded accusations. I’m surprised that we have not yet been accused of— provoking the Black Lives Matter movement. That would have been a good line of attack.