Biden condemns Putin over Ukraine, but doesn't rule out meeting him

Susan Walsh/AP Photo

President Joe Biden used his joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday to take shots at Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine, but also didn’t rule out meeting with the Russian leader.

“The idea that Putin is ever going to defeat Ukraine is beyond comprehension,” Biden said. “Imagine them trying to occupy that country for the next two, five, 10, 20 years, if they could. If they could. He’s miscalculated every single thing he initially calculated.”

“It’s sick what he’s doing,” he later added.

Though he said he has “no plans” to meet with Putin, Biden did not close the door entirely. He acknowledged that he is open to a conversation “if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war.”

“If that’s the case, in consultation with my French and my NATO friends, I’ll be happy to sit down with Putin to see what he wants, has in mind,” Biden said. In the meantime, the U.S. and its allies “must support the Ukrainian people.”

The news conference followed a lengthy bilateral meeting between Biden and Macron as part of a state visit by the French President. They said they discussed a range of issues, primarily Russia’s war in Ukraine, and both leaders came away from the meeting voicing strong support for Ukraine and a resolution to the war on Ukraine’s terms.

“We will never urge the Ukrainians to make a compromise which will not be acceptable for them,” Macron said, adding that “if we want a sustainable peace, we have to respect the Ukrainians to decide the moment and the conditions in which they will negotiate about their territory and their future.”

He also thanked the U.S. for its solidarity, and said he was “confident, because I think your people and your representatives do endorse and understand these objectives.”