President Joe Biden declined to answer a question from a member of the media on Tuesday about his dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The president stared blankly as a reporter asked him about the Kremlin leader.
“Do you think you may have underestimated Putin?”
Biden stared quietly, appearing uncomfortable, not answering the question.
The president went on to pick at his teeth as the reporter’s question went unanswered.
The awkward interaction came after Biden had asked his handlers when to stop talking, a tacit appeal for a lifeline to end the news conference.
Biden to staff: “Um, now, you gotta let me know when I’m supposed to, uh, stop here, but…” pic.twitter.com/RB3kN6M65Y
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) February 22, 2022
The exchange took place near the end of a White House event in which Biden discussed renewable energy and climate change with California Gov. Gavin Newsom. The event devolved toward tensions with Russia near the end of the event.
Happening Now: President Biden hosts an event on securing critical mineral supply chains, powering clean energy manufacturing, and creating good-paying jobs. https://t.co/2maGCJ3nsR
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 22, 2022
Biden has implemented a series of gradually severe sanctions on Russia for aggression against Ukraine, but that has proven incapable of deterring Putin from recognizing two breakaway territories of the country as independent nations.
Biden placed sanctions on American investment in the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in an executive order. He also secured a technology export ban on Russia by American allies Taiwan and Japan on Tuesday, according to Foreign Policy.
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However, Biden’s measures to deter Putin’s aggression against Ukraine have proved insufficient, with Russia recognizing the independence of the Donbas regions on Monday.
Biden promised he’d be the ideal president to face Vladimir Putin in the world arena in a poorly-aged tweet a year ago on Monday.
Vladimir Putin doesn’t want me to be President. He doesn’t want me to be our nominee. If you’re wondering why — it’s because I’m the only person in this field who’s ever gone toe-to-toe with him.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) February 21, 2020
Some of Biden’s most embarrassing gaffes and confused public statements have come in the fleeting few seconds reporters are able to ask him questions at the end of events.
Biden has frequently relied on White House staffers to rebuff reporters from public functions, usually right before they have an opportunity to ask tough and challenging questions of the president.
With moments like Tuesday’s, it’s easy to see why.