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Putin Gives Thoughts On Biden, Evades Questions About Killed Kremlin Opponents

Russian President Vladimir Putin (file photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (file photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said relations with the United States have plummeted to their lowest point in years, in a wide-ranging interview in which he also addressed allegations that he is "a killer."

"We have a bilateral relationship that has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years," Putin said in an interview with NBC, an excerpt of which was released on June 11.

The interview comes just days before the Russian leader is due to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden for bilateral talks in Geneva on June 16.

Putin compared former President Donald Trump with the current occupant of the White House, saying that he hoped to be able to work with Biden.

“I believe that former U.S. President Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual, talented individual, otherwise he would not have become U.S. president," Putin said in the interview that will be broadcast in full on June 14.

The Russian president described Trump as “a colorful individual” who did not come from the political establishment.

In contrast, Biden is “radically different” from Trump because he is a “career man” who has spent his life in politics as a senator and vice president, Putin said.

"That's a different kind of person, and it is my great hope that, yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but that there will not be any impulse-based movements on the part of the sitting U.S. president," he said.

Biden has said the United States wants a "stable, predictable" relationship with Russia that allows the two countries to work together on common issues like strategic stability, arms control, and climate change.

But the U.S. president has repeatedly emphasized that the United States will respond to Russian cyberattacks, election interference, and other malign actions.

The White House has said Biden will bring up ransomware attacks emanating from Russia, Moscow's aggression against Ukraine, the jailing of dissidents, and other issues that have plagued the relationship when he meets with Putin next week.

In the interview, Putin was asked about several of his opponents who have been killed in recent years and whose deaths have been blamed on Moscow. They include ex-KGB spy Aleksandr Litvinenko, who was poisoned, and opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead near the Kremlin.

He was also asked about Biden’s comments in an interview in March in which he agreed that Putin is “a killer.”

At one point, NBC's Keir Simmons asked Putin directly: “Mr. President, are you a killer?"

"Over my tenure, I've gotten used to attacks from all kinds of angles and from all kinds of areas under all kinds of pretext and reasons and of different caliber and fierceness, and none of it surprises me," Putin said, adding that the term “killer” was part of "macho behavior" common in Hollywood.

Such discourse "is part of U.S. political culture, where it's considered normal. By the way, not here; it is not considered normal here," he said.

Pressed further about the deaths of Kremlin opponents, the interviewer asked whether they were “all coincidences.”

"Look, you know, I don't want to come across as being rude, but this looks like some kind of indigestion, except that it's verbal indigestion. You've mentioned many individuals who indeed suffered and perished at different points in time for various reasons, at the hands of different individuals," Putin said, adding that in some cases the alleged perpetrators had been punished.

Putin also dismissed a report in The Washington Post this week that Russia was preparing to supply Iran with an advanced satellite that would enable it to track potential military targets across the Middle East, including U.S. forces.

"It's just fake news. At the very least, I don't know anything about this kind of thing," Putin said. "It's just nonsense, garbage."

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