Watch Jake Tapper’s exclusive interview with President Joe Biden on CNN Tonight with Jake Tapper at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday.
President Joe Biden He said in an exclusive interview with CNN on Tuesday Russian President Vladimir Putin is believed to be a “rational actor” who nevertheless underestimated his ability to invade Ukraine and oppress its people.
“I think he’s a rational player who miscalculated greatly,” Biden told Jake Tapper, as the Russian bombing of civilian targets in Ukraine signaled another turning point in the months-long war.
Tapper’s full interview with Biden airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on CNN Tonight with Jake Tapper.
Biden, his senior officials and fellow Western leaders have spent the past several months discussing what steps Putin might take as his forces suffer embarrassing battlefield losses in Ukraine. Biden himself warned last week that the threat of “nuclear Armageddon” had reached its highest level in 60 years.
Whether Putin is acting rationally has been the subject of intense debate as leaders work to predict his next steps. While Biden said on Tuesday that he believed Putin himself was rational, he called the Russian leader’s goals in Ukraine — which Putin expressed in an angry speech when he launched the war in February — as absurd.
“You listen to what he says. If you listen to the speech he gave after making that decision, he talked about the whole idea — he was required to be the leader of a Russia that unites all Russian speakers. I mean, I just think it doesn’t make sense,” Biden said.
Going forward, Biden said Putin mistakenly believed the Ukrainians would be subject to Russian invasion — a miscalculation that was refuted by fierce resistance within the country.
I think the discourse and its goals were not rational. “I think he thought, Jake, I think he thought he would be welcomed with open arms, that this was the home of Mother Russia in Kyiv, and that’s where he would be welcomed, and I think he totally miscalculated,” Biden said.
Indeed, Ukraine’s counterattack last month was successful in retaking the territories previously under Russian control, including important transport hubs. The losses constituted the latest major embarrassment for Russia, whose army struggled over the course of the seven-month war.
However, this week Russia launched one of its heaviest bombing campaigns since the invasion in late February. At least 19 people were killed and more than 100 wounded across the country, as far away as the western city of Lviv, hundreds of miles from the main theaters of war in eastern and southern Ukraine.
Biden spoke to Taber Almost a few hours after the meeting With members of the Group of Seven industrialized countries, who heard from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the need to strengthen His country’s air defenses amid the new Russian bombing.
Zelensky said at the meeting that “joint efforts to create an air shield for Ukraine” should be intensified amid a barrage of Russian cruise missiles and drone attacks.
White House officials have said the United States is prepared to further enhance Ukraine’s air defenses, including through missile defense systems that Biden rushed to deliver over the summer.
However, the intense Russian air attack on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and on civilian infrastructure suggests that Putin may use new tactics aimed at terrorizing Ukrainians as winter approaches.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”