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Biden calls Putin a ‘rational actor’ who ‘totally miscalculated’ in Ukraine

President Joe Biden said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “rational actor” who has miscalculated his war aims in Ukraine, seven months into a conflict the president said last week risked tipping into nuclear “Armageddon.”

“I think he is a rational actor who has miscalculated significantly,” Biden told CNN anchor Jake Tapper in a Tuesday interview amid escalating attacks in the war in Ukraine and Biden’s recent warnings.

The full interview is set to air Tuesday evening on CNN.


Biden’s comments come in the wake of deadly missile strikes on civilian targets by Russia and uncertainty about the conflict’s direction.

The president said last week that Putin was threatening to use a tactical nuclear weapon to escape defeat as Russian battlefield losses mount, sounding the alarm over nuclear “Armageddon” in remarks to prominent donors.

Whether Putin is making rational decisions has been a source of speculation as leaders attempt to preempt his next moves. Seven months into the war, the Russian leader has shown no interest in pulling back

Speaking to CNN, Biden said Putin’s objectives were not rational, however. “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 said.

In his remarks last week to donors, Biden wondered about an “off-ramp” for the Russian leader, asking, “Where does he find a way out? Where does he find himself in a position that he does not only lose face but significant power within Russia?”

Putin unleashed his largest attack in months on Monday, plunging the country into a blackout and killing more than a dozen reporter people across Ukraine.

The president and other Group of Seven leaders held an emergency 90-minute meeting on Tuesday and promised to hold Putin accountable for targeting “innocent civilian populations.” In a statement, the group said the “indiscriminate” attacks “constitute a war crime.”


G-7 leaders also condemned Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s plan to deploy his military forces inside Ukraine.

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