Biden Has No Regrets Calling Putin a Killer, Despite Frosty Response From Russian President

President Joe Biden has no regrets about calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a killer, even as the remark prompted a broad backlash from the Kremlin.

"The president gave a direct answer to a direct question," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday. "President Biden's known President Putin for a long time. 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."

During an interview that aired Tuesday, Biden agreed when ABC News' George Stephanopoulos asked whether he considers Putin to be a "killer."

"I do," Biden said. "Most important thing dealing with foreign leaders, in my experience, and I've dealt with an awful lot of 'em over my career, is just know the other guy."

Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced new sanctions for Russian officials because of links to the poisoning of opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Putin has denied involvement, but the intelligence community has assessed that Navalny was poisoned and on his orders.

Shortly after the remarks, Putin recalled Russia's ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also told reporters Thursday that "there hasn't been anything like this in history."

"These are very bad statements by the president of the United States," he said. "He definitely does not want to improve relations with us, and we will continue to proceed from this."

Putin, himself, responded during a video call Thursday, taunting with a Russian remark similar to the common "it-takes-one-to-know-one" phrase.

Escalating tension with Russia follows four years of former President Donald Trump keeping friendly relations with Putin.

Biden had a phone conversation with Putin shortly after taking office in January, during which Biden pressed Putin on Navalny.

Biden has long had a frigid relationship with Putin. Biden recalled in a 2014 New Yorker article that he told Putin in person, when Biden was vice president to Barack Obama, that he believes the Russian leader is soulless.

"I said, 'Mr. Prime Minister, I'm looking into your eyes, and I don't think you have a soul,'" Biden said in the article.

He again described the exchange in the ABC News interview this week.

"I said, 'Looked in your eyes and I don't think you have a soul,'" Biden said. "And looked back and he said, 'We understand each other.'"

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This combination of pictures created on March 17, shows President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Most important thing dealing with foreign leaders, in my experience, and I've dealt with an awful lot of 'em over my career, is just know the other guy," Biden said of his relationship with Putin. ERIC BARADAT,PAVEL GOLOVKIN/POOL/AFP/Getty Images