President Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “rational actor” who has acted “irrational” in invading Ukraine.
Biden gave the confusing assessment of his Russian counterpart five days after telling donors at a Democratic fundraiser that the world faces the worst risk of nuclear “Armageddon” since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
“I think he is a rational actor who has miscalculated significantly,” Biden told Tapper in an interview that will air at 9 p.m., according to an excerpt released by the cable network.
But Biden seemed to contradict his messaging moments later in his 43rd interview since taking office.
Putin “talked about the whole idea of — he was needed to be the leader of Russia that united all of Russian speakers. I mean, it’s just — I just think it’s irrational,” Biden also told Tapper, referring to the Russian leader’s remarks before invading Ukraine on Feb. 24.
“I think the speech, his objectives were not rational. I think he thought, Jake, I think he thought he was going to be welcomed with open arms, that this was the home of Mother Russia in Kyiv, and that where he was going to be welcomed, and I think he just totally miscalculated.”
Biden’s pronouncement that Putin is a “rational actor” nonetheless appears to cool his rhetoric on the risk of a nuclear apocalypse.
Putin last week signed a law to annex four partially occupied east Ukrainian regions after ordering a mass-mobilization of military reservists to replenish troop ranks after a series of military setbacks.