Speed Reads


Biden: Putin is 'a rational actor who miscalculated' in Ukraine, Saudis will face 'consequences' for oil cuts

President Biden told CNN in a wide-ranging interview Tuesday that he doesn't believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is irrational enough to use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, suggested Saudi Arabia will face "consequences" for siding with Russia in OPEC+ oil production cuts, predicted the U.S. is heading for at worst a "very slight recession," and said he has "no intention" to meet with Putin at next month's G20 summit, unless it were to talk about something like releasing WNBA star Brittany Griner. 

Biden also addressed reports that federal agents believe they have enough evidence to charge his son Hunter with tax violations and lying about drug use on a 2018 application to purchase a firearm. "This thing about a gun — I didn't know anything about it," Biden said, noting that his son has been open about his struggles with addiction. "So, I have great confidence in my son," he said. "I love him and he's on the straight and narrow, and he has been for a couple years now. And I'm just so proud of him."

Biden apparently relayed that message directly to Hunter Biden, too, according to leaked voicemails highlighted Monday by Fox News.

On Russia, CNN's Jake Tapper asked Biden if he believes, as other world leaders and former U.S. officials speculate, Putin has become unhinged and irrational in recent years. Biden said Putin's expectations for what would happen when he invaded Ukraine were "irrational," but as for Putin, "I think he is a rational actor who miscalculated significantly." 

Biden said he doesn't think Putin will use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, "but I think that it's irresponsible for him to talk about it" and "Armageddon" really is a slight possibility if something goes awry. "Once you use a nuclear weapon, the mistakes that can be made, the miscalculations," he said, and if things spin out of control, it "could end in Armageddon." Biden declined to say what the U.S. will do if Putin crosses a "red line" in Ukraine. "It would be irresponsible of me to talk about what we would or wouldn't do," he noted.

Biden also told Tapper he wouldn't get into specifics of how the U.S. will respond to Saudi Arabia's oil cut, but it is time to "rethink" America's relationship with its Saudi aillies. "There's going to be some consequences for what they've done with Russia," he said. Watch the full interview below.