OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
The escalating public feud between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden rapidly de-escalated on Friday after the White House put on the brakes.
In particular, the Biden administration has pushed back on an invitation from the Russian leader to conduct a “live” debate with Biden for the world to see.
And why? Because, apparently, the U.S. president is “quite busy” taking care of things.
Putin issued his challenge on Thursday after Biden’s warning that Putin would “pay a price” following a disputed U.S. intelligence report claiming that Moscow attempted to interfere in the 2020 election. In addition, Biden also agreed with ABC News host George Stephanopoulos that Putin is a killer.
“I don’t want to put this off for long. I want to go to the taiga this weekend to relax a little. So we could do it tomorrow or Monday. We are ready at any time convenient for the American side,” he continued.
“You know, I remember, in childhood, when we were arguing with each other in the courtyard, we would say, ‘I know you are, but what am I?’ and that’s no accident. It’s not just a childish saying. There is a very deep meaning in that.”
But apparently, the made-for-TV Biden Vs. Putin debate isn’t going to happen, at least not anytime soon.
During a Thursday press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to the challenge.
“I don’t have anything to report to you in terms of a future meeting,” Psaki said. “The president will, of course, be in Georgia tomorrow and quite busy.”
The request came after Biden made headlines this week following an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, when the president was asked if he thought Putin was a “killer,” to which he answered, “I do.”
Putin responded Thursday by saying, “It takes one to know one.”
Psaki, on Thursday, when asked by reporters if Biden regretted his remarks, said, “Nope.”
“The president gave a direct answer to a direct question,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin said Friday that Putin’s offer to speak with Biden was intended to prevent bilateral ties from completely falling apart. Putin made it clear that “it makes sense to have a talk to maintain Russia-U.S. relations instead of trading barbs,” and he wanted to make it public to help defuse tensions over Biden’s “very bad remarks,” said his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.
As for the intelligence report, it was assembled by a half-dozen U.S. intelligence agencies including the CIA, the NSA, and the FBI.
But notably missing was the Defense Intelligence Agency. That’s important, notes former DIA agent and author Rebehka Koffler, for two reasons.
One, she says, any Russian election disinformation campaigns would most likely be run out of the GRU, which is Russia’s rough equivalent of the DIA. Also, the Defense Department intelligence agency is the primary subject matter expert when it comes to GRU operations; for the U.S. intelligence community to make an assessment about Russian election interference without DIA input is haphazard and incomplete.
“The IC’s competence to assess foreign leaders’ intent is very limited, due to the analysts’ propensity for mirror-imaging and cognitive biases. Sounds like potentially another ‘Trump-Russia collusion’ hoax,” she said in a recent issue of her “Cut To The News” daily newsletter.
“Putin’s goal is to foment political disfunction and destabilize the American society by pitting Americans against one another, rather than to ‘help’ place a specific candidate in the White House,” she added.