When asked if he could trust Russian president Vladimir Putin at a 2001 summit in Slovenia, President George W. Bush famously said he looked Putin in the eye and “was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.”
President Joe Biden looked Putin in the eye and saw something different.
In the new Hulu documentary “Two Men at War” by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Biden recalled meeting with Putin at the Kremlin in 2011 — a story he also shared in a 2014 profile in The New Yorker by Evan Osnos.
“You said you know he doesn’t have a soul,” Stephanopoulos said in an interview with Biden recorded in March 2021.
“I did say that to him, yes,” Biden said. “And his response was ‘We understand one another.’ I wasn’t being a wise guy, I was alone with him in his office. That’s how it came about. It was when President Bush had said, ‘I’ve looked in his eyes and saw his soul.’ I said, ‘I looked in your eyes and I don’t think you have a soul,’ and [he] looked back at me, he said, ‘We understand each other.'”
“So you know Vladimir Putin,” Stephanopoulos said. “You think he’s a killer?
“Mm-hmm. I do,” Biden said.
“Two Men at War,” exploring Putin’s and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s backgrounds, leadership styles, and relationships with the West amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, is currently streaming on Hulu.