Biden derides Putin’s ‘ridiculous’ whataboutism


It has been a standard tactic for Russian leaders and other adversaries of the United States to highlight unflattering parts of the country’s history and contemporary political discord and use them as a bulwark against the United States' criticism of them.

Putin also equated Russia’s detention of opposition leader Alexi Navalny to those arrested in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol whom he said also had “political demands.”

“They’re being called domestic terrorists, they’re being accused of a number of crimes,” he said.

Pressed further by reporters in Geneva about his government’s human rights violations, Putin continued to skirt the issue and instead raised the issue of gun violence in the United States, its ongoing operation of the Guantanamo Bay prison as well as its military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Asked to respond to Putin’s assertions, Biden said they were not remotely comparable.

“That’s a ridiculous comparison,” Biden said in a solo news conference held after the conclusion of the Russian leader’s own press event.

Biden then went on to differentiate the criminal acts of rioting and violence that were part of the Jan. 6 takeover of the U.S. Capitol with the everyday political protesters that Putin’s regime has cracked down on.

“They’re very different criteria,” Biden said.

However, Biden grew testy as he attempted to exit his news conference during an exchange with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, who asked him to square his characterization of the bilateral summit as “productive” with Putin’s whataboutism afterwards.

“If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business,” Biden said.

Biden continued to vent shortly thereafter, telling reporters gathered nearby Air Force One that they “never ask a positive question” as the president was preparing to begin the journey back to the U.S. He also said he apologized to Collins for his demeanor, but stood by the crux of his comments.