Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with journalists as he attends a concert marking the seventh anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, March 18, 2021.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with journalists as he attends a concert marking the seventh anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, March 18, 2021.

Russian President Vladimir Putin responded Thursday to comments made by U.S. President Joe Biden in which he described the Russian leader as a killer, saying, “It takes one to know one.”

Biden made the comment during an interview with ABC News host George Stephanopoulos, released Wednesday. Stephanopoulos asked the president if he thought Putin was a killer, to which Biden responded, “Uh-huh. I do”

Speaking remotely with reporters from Moscow, Putin asserted that the adage “it takes one to know one” is more than just a childish retort.

“It has deep psychological meaning,” the Russian leader said.

Putin said that when people judge other people, they are projecting their own traits onto them. “We always see ourselves," he said. "We are always projecting what is of importance for us, what is our essence, on other people."

The Russian president also said that if he saw Biden, he would wish him good health, “without irony.”  

Both leaders in their respective interviews said they could continue working together within areas of mutual interest. But other actions taken by Russia in the wake of Biden’s interview indicate that might become difficult.  

Shortly before Putin spoke Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters via telephone that Biden’s comments were “very bad,” and that clearly the U.S. president “does not want to mend relations with our country.”

Peskov also said this was the point from which they would proceed in the future.

Ambassador recalled

Moscow on Thursday recalled its ambassador to the U.S. in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, to Russia for “consultations” to “analyze Russia-U.S. bilateral relations.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that Biden was “not going to hold back” when he had concerns about Putin’s actions. 

She said Biden did not regret referring to Putin as a killer and rebuffed suggestions that his rhetoric was unhelpful.

“President Biden has known President Putin for a long time,” Psaki said. “They’ve both been on the global stage for a long time, worked through many iterations of a relationship between the United States and Russia. And he believes we can continue to do that.”

Psaki also dismissed Putin’s “it takes one to know one” response. 

“The president believes that one of the greatest attributes of the United States is our honest self-reflection, and our constant striving for progress, and there’s always more work to do,” she said. 

In his remarks, Putin cited the U.S. atomic bombing of Japan during World War II, as well as its history of slavery and the slaughtering of Native Americans, as evidence of its ill intent.