Vladimir Putin's Challenge to Joe Biden Has People Questioning Who Would Win Debate

A discussion has sprung up about whether Joe Biden should accept Vladimir Putin's offer of a live debate as the Kremlin responds to the U.S. president calling his Russian counterpart a "killer."

Putin issued the challenge after Biden told ABC News the Russian president would "pay the price" for allegedly interfering in the 2020 election.

Asked if he considered Putin a killer, Biden replied: "I do."

Moscow recalled its U.S. ambassador after the comments, which were made as Putin denies accusations that his security services poisoned the opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

"I've just thought of this now," Putin told a Russian state television reporter. "I want to propose to President Biden to continue our discussion, but on the condition that we do it basically live, as it's called.

"Without any delays and directly in an open, direct discussion. It seems to me that would be interesting for the people of Russia and for the people of the United States."

Putin also proposed that he and Biden hold the debate as early as March 19.

Donald Trump Jr., eldest son of former President Donald Trump, suggested that any discussion would be a win for Moscow.

"Putin just challenged Joe Biden to an unscripted live debate. The whole world knows that we have no leadership at the top, just an empty suit with a teleprompter (and he can't even get that right)," Trump Jr. tweeted.

"They look at America's weakness right now and are salivating."

Conservative political commentator Candace Owens also suggested that Putin called out the president for a debate "in front of the world because he knows that senile Biden cannot do that." She described this as "objectively hilarious."

Owens added: "Knowing that world leaders are openly mocking the sham of our election results is objectively sad."

Rachel, I think @joebiden should debate with Putin. Joe would wipe the floor with him. https://t.co/fa8ZDHii3o

— John Sweeney (@johnsweeneyroar) March 18, 2021

Others said the U.S. president would be more than able to hold his own in a live head-to-head.

Political journalist Jamie Weinstein wrote: "Look, this is not a difficult question. Joe Biden, with all his faults, has participated in more debates in the last 12 months than Putin has participated in ever—by a large margin."

British reporter John Sweeney suggested Biden "would wipe the floor" with his Russian counterpart.

Max Abrahams, a political scientist and author, pointed to the possible wider implications of the leaders' war on words.

"I see why people think it's funny that Putin challenged Biden to a debate he can never accept but this embarrassment risks fueling a not-funny escalation between nuclear powers," Abrahams tweeted.

In a statement, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the U.S. administration "never ceases to surprise us with its absurd" comments.

"It's not just about the unseemly attacks against Russia's top officials, but also the absurd accusations of Russia's interference in last year's presidential election in the United States, in which, as you are aware, Joe Biden was the winner," Zakharova added.

"Unfortunately, the United States is held captive by illusions as it strives to unleash a senseless campaign of Russophobic attacks. This only leads to further degradation of bilateral relations, which contradicts the fundamental interests of the peoples of Russia and the United States. It appears that Washington is not ready to understand the ensuing risks to peace and security."

The White House has been contacted for comment.

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin during a video-link meeting with members of the public in Crimea on March 18. Joe Biden has described him as a killer. Alexey DRUZHININ / SPUTNIK / AFP/Getty Images