‘You’re playing a game with me’: Biden snaps at reporter over Russia sanctions question

Joe Biden snapped at a CBS News reporter who questioned why new sanctions would have an impact on Russia changing course in Ukraine when previous sanctions failed to deter an invasion.

“That’s not what I said. You’re playing a game with me,” Mr Biden responded during a press conference in Brussels.

Journalist Christina Ruffini had asked how more sanctions would help in Ukraine when “deterrance didn’t work”.

“Let’s get something straight, you’d remember if you’ve covered me from the beginning, I did not say that, in fact, the sanctions would deter him. Sanctions never deter,” Mr Biden said. “You keep talking about that. Sanctions never deter.”

Mr Biden did, in fact, believe that “sanctions are intended to deter”, according to national security adviser Jake Sullivan, speaking on 11 February.

“The President believes that sanctions are intended to deter. And in order for them to work — to deter, they have to be set up in a way where if Putin moves, then the costs are imposed,” Mr Sullivan said.

Just weeks later, Mr Biden said the enforcement of sanctions would increase the pain on Putin and that they would be need to be implemented long-term for at least the remainder of the year.

“That’s what will stop him,” Mr Biden said.

When Ms Ruffini asked Mr Biden if the latest actions he took would do just that and have an impact on Russia changing course in Ukraine, Mr Biden snapped back. “The answer is no,” he said.

“The single most important thing is for us to stay unified and the world continue to focus on what a brute this guy is and all the innocent people’s lives are being lost and ruined and what’s going on. That’s the important thing,” Mr Biden said.

“But look, if you’re Putin and think that Europe is going to crack in a month or six weeks or two months, why not – they can take anything for another month. But we have to demonstrate. The reason I asked for the meeting. We have to stay fully, totally, thoroughly united.”