The Sunday Telegraph

Me, a killer? That’s just Hollywood machismo, says Putin in response to Biden’s claim

- By Nick Allen, Rozina Sabur and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow

VLADIMIR PUTIN has dismissed Joe Biden’s descriptio­n of him as a “killer” as Hollywood machismo.

Ahead of their summit in Geneva on Wednesday, Mr Putin also described Donald Trump as an “extraordin­ary and talented individual”.

In an interview with NBC News, Mr Putin was asked directly if he was “a killer,” as Mr Biden has alleged in the past. The Russian president said: “Over my tenure, I’ve got used to attacks from all kinds of angles and from all kinds of areas under all kinds of pretext and reasons, and of different calibre and fierceness, and none of it surprises me.”

He added that “killer” was a “macho” term common in Hollywood.

Such discourse was “part of US political culture where it’s considered normal,” he said. “By the way, not here, it is not considered normal here.”

Mr Putin said Russia’s relationsh­ip with the United States had “deteriorat­ed to its lowest point in recent years,” but said he could work with Mr Biden. Russian officials and state media have lauded the fact the summit is happening as a triumph.

“For the Kremlin, the meeting, and the fact that Biden himself asked Putin to meet, proves Russia’s position as a great power and shows respect for Putin,” Maxim Suchkov, director of the Centre for Advanced American Studies at Russia’s leading diplomacy school MGIMO University, said.

One prominent Russian TV news host said: “Biden is in for a diplomatic match with a super heavyweigh­t fighter from Russia.”

A Time magazine cover last week with Mr Putin reflected in Mr Biden’s aviators sent the Russian state media into a state of frenzy.

“Putin in Biden’s eyes” and “Putin on the cover of Time” were some of the headlines.

“The American publicatio­n is clearly more interested in Biden’s meeting with Putin than with any other heads of state,” state-owned channel Rossiya said, pointing out that Geneva is just one of several stops in Mr Biden’s European tour.

Sergei Markov, a flamboyant Kremlin-connected pundit, described Mr Biden’s phone call to Mr Putin as “Russia’s genuine victory” after the US President reached out to the Russian leader and offered to meet, putting an end to weeks of sabre-rattling in April when Russia amassed a record number of troops by the Ukrainian border.

Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin’s spokesman, described the call as “very very important” while Russia media relished comments by Washington’s hawkish commentato­rs who lashed out at Mr Biden for not being tough enough on Russia as something that proves that Moscow has got the upper hand in getting the invitation.

Russian state television recently sided with Mr Biden against prominent Republican­s who have mounted a campaign protesting against the summit with Mr Putin.

Rossiya-1, one of the top state channels, lashed out at “hotheads in the US pressing Biden to scrap the summit”.

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