Biden Snaps at Reporter Pressing Him on Sanctions: 'You're Playing a Game with Me'


President Joe Biden accused a reporter of “playing a game” with him Thursday when she questioned the efficacy of sanctions in deterring Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biden was preparing to end his news briefing at NATO headquarters in Brussels when he agreed to take one more question.

Christina Ruffini from CBS News asked, “Sir, deterrence didn’t work. What makes you think Vladimir Putin will alter course based on the action you’ve taken today?”

In remarks at the beginning of the news conference, Biden had mentioned sanctions — along with military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and NATO allies sending more troops and equipment to the “eastern flank” of the alliance — as steps taken thus far.

He responded to Ruffini’s question, “Let’s get something straight: You remember, if you’ve covered me from the beginning, I did not say that in fact the sanctions would deter him. Sanctions never deter.”

CBS Forced to Delete Segment After Most Embarrassing Biden Reporting in History Exposed On-Air

Addressing the entire room of reporters, the president said, “You keep talking about that.”

“Sanctions never deter,” Biden continued. “The maintenance of sanctions — the maintenance of sanctions, the increasing the pain, and the demonstration — why I asked for this NATO meeting today — is to be sure that after a month, we will sustain what we’re doing, not just next month, the following month, but for the remainder of this entire year. That’s what will stop him.”

Ruffini followed up: “Do you believe the actions today will have an impact on making Russia change course in Ukraine?”

“That’s not what I said,” the president answered, more agitated. “You’re playing a game with me. I know — the answer is no.”

Biden argued that unity with Europe over time is what’s needed to force Russia to change course.

“But, look, if you’re Putin and you 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,” he said.

“But we have to demonstrate — the reason I asked for the meeting — we have to stay fully, totally, thoroughly united.”

The president’s suggestion that he did not expect sanctions to deter Putin stands in contrast with what Vice President Kamala Harris’ said in Munich on Feb. 20.

Biden's Student Debt Cancellation a Main Cause of $400B Increase in '24 Deficit

“The purpose of the sanctions has always been and continues to be deterrence,” she said.

A reporter asked her, “But if Putin has made up his mind, do you feel that this threat that has been looming is really going to deter him?”

“Absolut- — we strongly believe — and remember also that the sanctions are a product not only of our perspective as the United States but a shared perspective among our allies,” Harris replied.

Biden’s exchange with Ruffini was somewhat reminiscent of one he had with CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins last summer in Geneva after he met with Putin.

“Why are you so confident [Putin] will change his behavior, Mr. President?” Collins asked Biden as he was leaving a news conference on June 16.

Biden, clearly angry, turned toward Collins and said, “I’m not confident he’ll change his behavior — what the hell? What do you do all the time? When did I say I was confident? I said, I said, what I said was — let’s get it straight — I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world. I’m not confident of anything. I’m just stating the facts.”

Collins continued, “But given his past behavior has not changed, and in that press conference after sitting down with you for several hours, he denied any involvement in cyberattacks, he downplayed human rights abuses, he even refused to say [opposition leader] Alexei Navalny’s name. So how does that account to a constructive meeting, as President Putin put it?”

Biden did not respond directly, but said, “If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business.”

He apologized later in the day before boarding Air Force One to fly back to the United States, saying he shouldn’t have given the “wise guy” response he did.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , , , , , , , ,
Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith