Biden: Putin ‘not a decent man — he’s a dictator’

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President Biden on Thursday said Russian President Vladimir Putin is “not a decent man” and “a dictator” who has concerned him for decades while addressing a shift in U.S. policy allowing Ukraine to strike near Russia’s border with American weapons.

Biden made the remarks in an interview with ABC World News anchor David Muir while in Normandy to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Muir asked Biden about the recent decision to authorize Ukraine to use U.S. weapons to strike targets inside Russia more than two years after Moscow launched an invasion of its neighbor.

“They’re authorized to be used in proximity to the border when they’re being used on the other side of the border to attack specific targets in Ukraine,” Biden said. “We’re not authorizing strikes 200 miles into Russia and we’re not authorizing strikes on Moscow, on the Kremlin.”

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Asked if he was concerned by Putin’s rhetoric that the shift amounted to U.S. participation in the war, Biden said the Russian leader has “concerned me for 40 years.”

“He’s not a decent man. He’s a dictator, and he’s struggling to make sure he holds his country together while still keeping this assault going,” Biden said. “We’re not talking about giving them weapons to strike Moscow, to strike the Kremlin, to strike against — just across the border, where they’re receiving significant fire from conventional weapons used by the Russians to go into Ukraine to kill Ukrainians.”

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Biden’s comments are his latest sharp criticism of Putin amid Russian’s war in Ukraine. The president has previously suggested Putin “cannot remain in power” and referred to the Russian leader as a “crazy SOB.”

Rallying allies to support Ukraine has been a central part of Biden’s foreign policy during his first term, even as some Republicans, led by former President Trump, have pushed back on continued U.S. support for Kyiv.

Biden in remarks at Normandy on Thursday directly connected the fighting in World War II to the importance of maintaining alliances today.

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“The struggle between a dictatorship and freedom is unending,” he said. “To surrender to bullies, to bow down to dictators is simply unthinkable. Were we to do that, it means we would be forgetting what happened here on these hallowed beaches.”

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