Russian President Vladimir Putin says he does not remember the time President Joe Biden allegedly looked him in the eyes and said he doesn’t have a soul.
Putin was responding to a question from a reporter who asked about the meeting that occurred when Biden was still vice president, as well as whether Biden had invited him to the White House. Putin addressed the second part of the question first.
“He did not invite me to the White House and no invitation of that kind was given. I think we really have to have the right conditions before we can get to that stage. As far as looking in eyes and finding souls, a concern, well, I actually don’t remember that, but this is not the first time I’ve heard that statement. But if he asks — if you ask me what kind of partner or interlocutor President Biden is, I would say he’s a very balanced and professional man, and it’s clear that he’s very experienced,” the Russian president responded.
Biden has said repeatedly that during a visit to the Kremlin in 2011 while he was vice president, that he looked then- Russian Prime Minister Putin in the eyes and said he doesn’t have “a soul.”
“I had an interpreter, and when he was showing me his office I said, ‘It’s amazing what capitalism will do, won’t it? A magnificent office!’ And he laughed. As I turned, I was this close to him,” Biden told the New Yorker, saying he then held his hand a few inches from his nose. “Mr. Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.”
The president has repeated the story a number of times in the years since then, most recently in a March interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. (RELATED: Biden, Putin Agree To Return Ambassadors During Summit)
President George W. Bush also famously said during a 2001 summit with Putin that he was able to “get a sense of his soul.”
Biden and Putin’s meeting in Geneva, Switzerland lasted just over 2 1/2 hours and was a much-anticipated event during the first overseas trip of Biden’s presidency.