In a New Yorker
profile published Monday, Vice President Joe Biden recalls telling Russian President Vladimir Putin during an encounter that "I don't think you have a soul."
In the interview, Biden recounts an exchange that occurred during a tour of Putin's office in 2011. As then-Prime Minister Putin was giving the vice president a tour of his office, Biden, through an interpreter, said, "It's amazing what capitalism will do, won't it? A magnificent office!"
Putin laughed, Biden recalled, saying he turned and was just inches from Putin.
"I said, 'Mr. Prime Minister, I'm looking into your eyes, and I don't think you have a soul,'" said Biden, in a clear reference to former President George W. Bush's assertion that he was "able to get a sense" of Putin's soul.
During his first news conference
with Putin in June 2001, Bush was asked whether the Russian leader was a man he could trust, and Bush replied, "I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country."
According to Biden, Putin "looked back at me, and he smiled, and he said, 'We understand one another.'"
New Yorker reporter Evan Osnos writes that no foreign crisis "has consumed more of Biden's time and attention in recent months than the wars in Ukraine and Iraq."
According to the profile, Biden said President Barack Obama "sends me to places that he doesn't want to go."
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