June 13, 2021

Putin sloughs off the accusation that he's "a killer" and diminishes Biden "a career man" who has spent "virtually his entire adulthood in politics."


NBC News' Keir Simmons blurts out: "Mr. President, are you a killer?" Putin's answer is the opposite of blurted:

"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.

He went on to call the "killer" designation something "macho" or "Hollywood" only normal in U.S. culture, and not in Russian politics. "I'm always guided by the interests of the Russian people, and the Russian state," Putin said....

Simmons persisted in reading out a list of specific names of Putin's opponents who have been killed, usually in mysterious circumstances in recent years, including Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko, Sergei Magnitsky, Boris Nemtsov and Mikhail Lesin. "Are all of these coincidences, Mr. President?" Simmons asked.

About Trump, he said: "Even now... I believe that former U.S. president Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual, talented individual... 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." By contrast, "President Biden is a career man. He has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics... 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 impulse-based movements, on behalf of the sitting U.S. president."

The linked NBC article takes that to mean that Putin seems to "favor" Trump. Did Putin read that? I picture him laughing. If Putin is indeed "guided by the interests of the Russian people, and the Russian state," then I would think he prefers the "career man" who can be trusted not to make "impulse-based movements." But yes, obviously, he comes across as admiring Trump, the man, especially now that he's out of office and not threatening "impulse-based movements" that might hurt Russian interests.

But Putin is, I presume, always manipulating, and every statement is manipulation, not his actual opinion. Right now, he's putting Biden in his place. In Putin's presentation, Biden is a weakling — posturing in a stupid Hollywood clich√©. And Trump was really a man of substance — an extraordinary self-creation. What a crafty taunt!


Ann Althouse said...

Mike of Snoqualmie writes:

"Donald Trump followed Teddy Roosevelt’s maxim of “Speak softly but carry a big stick.” He didn’t make petty gestures of calling Putin a “killer” like Joe Biden did. Trump’s actions of low oil prices, Iranian and Russian sanctions, a strong economy and strategic military moves kept Putin contained. Joe Biden is a weak man, who has to resort to name calling to make himself feel big. Joe’s senile, he’s old and he has a long, distinguished career of being wrong and ineffectual. Putin has his number."

Ann Althouse said...

Lloyd writes:

"I don't really know what's going on with apparent failed assassinations, but why does it seem that Putin is the only person on earth who tries to kill with Novichok ("a drop can kill!"), and fails? Are intelligence agencies lying to us? The Skripals, father and daughter, and more recently Aleksei Navalny. A bit of an upset tummy, then the victims are hale and hearty, and live to a ripe age."

Ann Althouse said...

Rob writes:

kkkI followed the link to Newsweek, which posted excerpts from NBC of Putin in which neither news organization nor the Russian leader can be trusted.

I don’t read any favoritism towards Trump in his comments. I think even best case, whatever disruptions Russia employed in either the 2016 or 2020 elections was focused on outcomes and not individuals. In other words, if it suited Putin’s Russia interests for a Trump administration and the discord and resistance that came with it, I don’t don’t doubt that there were some shenanigans. But the scale was minute and irrelevant.

I agree that he is probably more at ease with the predictability of a Biden administration, maybe even going so far as to clear space on his desk for another Office Depot styled “reset” button.

It is interesting the emphasis on the demise of Putin’s opponents. I’m glad Kier Simmon’s pressed the issue but Putin’s response is unsurprising and probably not any different than what would be offered by any Eastern/Middle Eastern autocratic leaders under his influence. Or even those spread across the continents in much less liberalized nations not under his influence. The big question is would any of the major media outlets press Xi Jinping in a similar type interview, after the Trump bad/Biden good questions, about Urghur genocide and suppression of rights in Hong Kong.

Ann Althouse said...

Jeff writes:

"Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Putin also a career man who has spent virtually his entire life in politics?"

I don't think the KGB part of his career is considered "politics." He did that from 1975 to 1990.

Still the last 30 decades are political. But that means he knows the kind of people who live entirely within politics. It's a serious insult, I believe. But I acknowledge that he's speaking a different language from within a very different culture. I can only speculate what it's like to him.

Ann Althouse said...

Temujin writes:

Putin is extremely bright, careful and crafty with his words. His actions, often brutal, are kept from his doorstep. And though they have his name all over them, it never seems to actually reach him. He dismissed the reporter's questions as you would a mosquito flying around your face. Just a quick swat...and gone.

Now- imagine Joe Biden being asked specific questions, with names, about Hunter and he taking money from the Mayor of Moscow, the Communist Chinese, a Urkrainian energy company, etc. Imagine how sloppily Biden would have answered that. He would have gotten visibly angry, and attacked the reporter, leaning toward him in a threatening way- as Joe Biden always has throughout his career.

No[w]- imagine Kamala Harris having to tackle actual questions- hard questions- about her performance, or her production, or her past. She has spent the last week fumbling her first public appearances over and over again. And these were simple ones.

I think Putin and his Russian team, the CCP, and their team, are all pretty delighted that Trump is out of office. Trump was not classy, not a part of the usual diplomacy-speak crowd. What he was/is, is unattached to norms, unpredictable, and extremely pro-American. That makes him much harder to manipulate or even compete against for a foreign (or domestic) entity. Biden/Harris is a gift to our enemies and a disaster for the US. Putin will smile for the cameras, give Joe some talking points, then proceed to do whatever he wants.

Ann Althouse said...

Bob Boyd writes:

The narrative has been that Putin prefers Trump, even that Trump is Putin's tool. Now their spin is US-Russia relations sank to a low point under Trump and Biden is someone Putin can work with. Putin the "killer". How nice.

While he was blurting, Simmons could have blurted out, "Mr. President, is Donald Trump your cock holster?" I see that as a missed opportunity.

Ann Althouse said...

Tina writes:

It’s about oil. Period. Everything else is optics. Trump effectively challenged Putin’s control of oil prices in his region and lowered prices in ours. Biden betrayed the Canadian government and the American people and doubled the price of gas for us, but the Canadians and American Democrats are such chumps they care more about nursing emotional grievances than facing geopolitical and checkbook reality.

Putin is laughing at Biden. The rest of us have little to laugh about, unless you can manage to squeeze a bit of amusement out of the idea that some people still think the electricity running their electric car comes from cow flatulence capture and the imaginary trees they think they planted with their sky miles to offset their carbon footprint flying back to Bennington College after visiting mummy.

Ann Althouse said...

MikeR writes:

I think Putin actually answered well. "these five people are dead - is that a coincidence?" Idiotic question. "Well, various different people died at various times..."

You don't need "coincidence" to explain that. Of course, he probably really killed them all, but the interviewer didn't present the slightest shred of evidence.

Ann Althouse said...

Brian writes:

Great post. Accurate assessment.

What impressed me was how well Putin responded to very pointed questions and, especially, how his comments reflected a good understanding of America. He very concisely referred to two issues recognized by most of the American public: (1) Biden is a career politician; and (2) Biden is blowhard who uses “Hollywood” talk.