Russian Media Accuse Joe Biden of 'Gaslighting' Vladimir Putin With Sanctions

Russian media outlets have reacted angrily to U.S. sanctions imposed on Moscow, with one newspaper accusing President Joe Biden of playing mind games with Vladimir Putin.

This week, the U.S. State Department expelled 10 Russian officials from their diplomatic mission in Washington and the Treasury Department announced that it had implemented sanctions against technology companies that supported the Russian government's attempts to launch cyberattacks against the U.S.

The punitive measures for the 2020 SolarWinds hack and interference in the presidential election, for which the Kremlin denies responsibility annoyed Moskovsky Komsomolets commentator, Mikhail Rostovsky.

In a piece headlined "Biden has subjected Putin to gaslighting," Rostovsky wrote that the short interval between Biden's offer for a summit with his Russian counterpart and the announcement of the punitive measures demonstrated a "deliberate strategy" by Washington to send "contradictory" signals to Moscow.

This strategy, he said, "is based on the principles of a particularly sophisticated form of psychological pressure—so-called 'gaslighting.'"

Describing the technique as one that entails "psychological manipulations," Rostovsky said the U.S. was "trying to train Russia" like an animal.

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Russia at the East Room of White House in Washington, DC on April 15, 2021. Russian media outlets have reacted angrily to news of the sanctions. JIM WATSON/Getty Images

"They are trying to make our country the geopolitical equivalent of 'Pavlov's dog,'" in which, "the kind American master waves a sausage in front of our nose in the form of an invitation to a summit."

"Washington thinks we should happily wag our tails and run there at top speed," he said, adding that then, "the strict American master cracks the whip threateningly and, according to the same plan, Russia should hide in a corner and wail pitifully."

"The new U.S. president is playing cat and mouse with us," the columnist wrote, adding that any chance of a summit between the leaders should be off the table. "U.S. sanctions have totally killed the meaning and need for such a meeting."

A piece in the government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta headlined "Cold Wind from the Atlantic" also took issue with the contrast between an offer of talks and punitive measures.

It said "only a couple of days" after a phone conversation between the leaders "gave hope for the end of another tense phase in bilateral relations," the American side has "done everything to strangle these hopes at birth."

The publication Nezavisimaya Gazeta said, in a piece headlined "Biden has given Putin a reason to cancel the meeting," that the sanctions were "not the worst thing that the Americans could have done against Russia."

However, it did say that they opened to a "new and very sad page" in relations between the countries, which will take on an "increasingly harsh character."

Russian officials have said that Moscow would respond to the U.S. measures, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warning there would be "a series of retaliatory measures ... in the nearest time," the Associated Press reported.

On Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov criticized the U.S. saying that "the obsession with sanctions by our American counterparts remains unacceptable," the Russian news agency Tass reported.

The graphic below, provided by database research firm Statista, shows the time in power of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin Statista Power