Russian President Vladimir Putin has hit back at Joe Biden’s ‘killer’ remarks, saying “it takes one to know one”.
“We always see our own qualities in another person and think that he/she is like ourselves,” Mr Putin said in a televised address on Friday morning (Australian time).
His comments came a day after the Kremlin recalled its ambassador back to Moscow to urgently discuss the future of Russia’s relationship with the US after its president called Mr Putin “a killer” who has no soul.
During a video call with residents of Crimea – marking the anniversary of its 2014 annexation from Ukraine – Mr Putin said the comments reflected America’s own troubled past, referring to the US’ legacy of slavery.
“In the history of every people, every state, there are a lot of hard, dramatic and bloody events. But when we evaluate other people or even other governments, we always look as if into the mirror. We always see ourselves in it,” Mr Putin said.
“I remember when I was young and I got into fights with my friends, we always used to say ‘whoever calls names is called that himself,'” he added.
“And that’s not just a children’s joke. The meaning is quite deep psychologically.”
Back in the White House, Mr Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki was asked whether the President was concerned his comments about Mr Putin being a ‘killer’ had exacerbated an already strained relationship with Russia.
She said Mr Biden had no regrets.
Meanwhile, Mr Putin recalled how during his childhood, “when we argued in the courtyard we used to say: it takes one to know one”.
“And that’s not a coincidence, not just a children’s saying or joke,” Mr Putin said.
“We always see our own traits in other people and think they are like how we really are. And as a result we assess (a person’s) activities and give assessments.”
Given “we know each other personally”, Mr Putin said “without any irony or joke” that he wished the US leader “good health”.
Shortly before Mr Putin spoke, the Kremlin’s spokesman said Mr Biden’s remarks showed he had no interest in fixing ties with officials in Moscow.
“These are really bad remarks by the US president. He has clearly shown that he doesn’t want to improve relations with our country,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“We will now proceed from that.”
“Of course, this hasn’t happened before in history,” Mr Peskov told reporters, describing the state of bilateral relations as “really bad”.
Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy chairman of parliament’s upper house, said Mr Biden’s comments were unacceptable, would inevitably inflame already bad ties and ended any hope in Moscow of a change of US policy under the new administration.
He said the Russian recall of its ambassador was the only reasonable step to take in the circumstances.
“I suspect it will not be the last one if no explanation or apology follows from the American side,” Mr Kosachyov said in a Facebook post.
“This kind of assessment is not allowed from the mouth of a statesman of such a rank. This kind of statement is not acceptable under any circumstances,” he added, calling it a watershed moment in US-Russia ties.