US President Joe Biden reiterated his belief Wednesday that there is “no substitute” for face-to-face interaction as he welcomed Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, offering his own reflections on the Ukrainian leader and the important message of their first in-person meeting since Russia’s war began.
“It’s all about looking someone in the eye. And I mean it sincerely. I don’t think there’s any, any, any substitute for sitting down face to face with a friend or foe and looking them in the eye. And that’s exactly what’s happened in this moment,” Biden said in response to a question from CNN’s Phil Mattingly during a joint news conference with Zelensky.
Biden suggested that Wednesday’s meeting sent a critical message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he said has “failed.”
“It was very important for him (Putin) and everyone else to see that President Zelensky and I are united, two countries together, to make sure he cannot succeed,” Biden said.
Zelensky, Biden said, “in his very soul is who he says he is. It’s clear who he is. He’s willing to give his life for his country — and all the folks who came with him today. And so, I think it’s important for him to know we are going to do everything in our power, everything our power to see that he succeeds.”
Biden said that he and Zelensky did not discuss “at all” the potentially escalatory effects of sending new Patriot missile systems to Ukraine.
“It’s not escalatory, it’s defensive… We’d love to not have them use it – just stop the attacks,” he said.