US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he believes his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin is a normally rational actor who badly misjudged his prospects of occupying Ukraine.
For what he has described as an “off-ramp” as his administration looks, the President spoke out in a rare televised interview for Putin to de-escalate his invasion of Ukraine before he resorts to weapons of mass destruction.
Biden told reporters after Moscow’s shelling of civilian targets across its neighbour marked an escalation in the seven-month conflict “I think he is a rational actor who has miscalculated significantly”.
To use nuclear weapons to assist Russia’s faltering attempt to take over swaths of Ukraine about the dangers from Putin’s thinly veiled threats, last week Biden warned that the world risks “Armageddon” in unusually direct remarks.
After the Russian President suffered a series of recent military set-backs in the invasion, which he launched in February Putin’s state of mind has been the subject of much debate.
Biden told CNN that he had underestimated the ferocity of Ukrainian defiance, while he believed Putin was rational.
Biden said that “I think he just totally miscalculated, I think he thought he was going to be welcomed with open arms and this was the home of Mother Russia in Kyiv, and that was where he was going to be welcomed”.
Although he was clear there are no plans for talks on Ukraine, The President even left open the possibility of talks with his Russian counterpart on the sidelines of the meeting of G20 nations in Bali scheduled for November.
Biden told CNN, “Look, I have no intention of meeting with him,” by adding that he would however see Putin if the Russian leader wanted negotiations over releasing detained US basketball star Brittney Griner.
He said “If he came to me at the G20 and said ‘I want to talk about the release of Griner,’ I’d meet with him. I mean, it would depend”.
Against Russian soldiers across the front lines in the south and in the east Kiev’s forces have in recent weeks been pushing back.
His troops had recaptured nearly 965 square miles (2,500 square kilometres) in the counter-offensive that began late last month, On Friday Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
Russia had retaliated with a massive bombardment of its neighbour, the Ukrainian defense ministry said on Monday, as well as other cities across the country, hitting the Ukrainian capital Kyiv for the first time in months.
With members of the Group of 7 industrialized nations, Biden spoke to a reporter an hour later after meeting virtually, who heard from Zelenskyy on the need for intensified efforts to “create an air shield for Ukraine” amid the barrage of Russian cruise missile and drone attacks.
For help fending off attacks from the sky, Zelensky told the G7 “millions of people would be grateful”, and he warned Russia “still has room for further escalation”.
After Monday’s bloody salvos Washington pledged that it would up shipments of air defenses to Ukraine, while Germany promised delivery “in the coming days” of the first Iris-T missile shield reportedly capable of protecting a city.
To adopt a resolution at the UN condemning Moscow’s annexation of Ukrainian regions meanwhile, the United States was leading an all-out offensive to rally as many countries as possible.
State department spokesman Ned Price said “For neutrality we believe the time has long passed. There is no such thing as neutrality in a situation like this”.
To the general assembly by Ukraine UN countries are debating a resolution introduced, with a vote likely on Wednesday or Thursday, which the West hopes will demonstrate the isolation of Putin’s Russia on the international stage.
From the media Biden frequently takes questions, but he has one-to-one televised interviews or held a few press conferences.