While America’s right-wing media predictably is shouting loudly how President Biden gave Vladimir Putin “a pass” during their much-ballyhooed summit in Geneva, one notable person was very impressed by the 46th president: Putin himself.
The Russian leader has had nothing but positive things to say about Biden since their face-to-face meeting, calling it a constructive discussion without any hostility in the press conference he held afterwards.
But Putin saved his most complimentary words about his geopolitical rival for Thursday, during a satellite conversation with university graduates in Russia. In particular, he dismissed any of the criticisms commonly heard from America’s conservative news outlets saying that Biden had lost a step or wasn’t up to the job.
Russia’s own state media has also played up the “Sleepy Joe” narrative.
During his talk Thursday, Putin noted that despite the long overseas flight — something the Russian president admits can wear him down — his U.S. counterpart appeared fresh and energized.
The change in tone from both Putin and Russian media may be explained by the fact that Biden does not dismiss Russia’s standing in the global hierarchy, a move seen by international observers as a savvy, pragmatic move.
From the New York Times:
"The earlier doctrine, put forward by President Obama, which dismissed Russia as just a regional power, has been rejected,” said Konstantin Remchukov, editor of the influential Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, appearing on state-run Channel One. "It has been revealed, Mr. Remchukov said, that Russia is an indispensable power that the U.S. “needs to talk with” and that Mr. Putin is “no longer demonized” as a pariah. Mr. Biden’s description of Mr. Putin before the summit as a “worthy adversary” raised eyebrows in Moscow. And in his opening remarks at Wednesday’s summit in an 18th-century villa overlooking Lake Geneva, he pointedly departed from President Obama’s “regional power” remark, saying that Russia and the United States were “two great powers.” “He is the first post-Cold-War U.S. president who has adequate notions of what Russia is and what it wants, and what the United States can and cannot do about it,” said Kadri Liik, a Russia specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. “Biden has been positioning himself very skillfully.”
And while U.S.-Russia relations may still be at a low point — note that Putin again denied any responsibility for cyberattacks American intelligence agencies are convinced Russia is behind — the Kremlin’s view of this White House is now shifting, especially with regards to the president. Putin acknowledged that himself with one more bit of praise for his rival.
“Biden is a professional, and you have to be very careful in working with him to make sure you don’t miss anything. He doesn’t miss anything, I can assure you.”