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President Biden said in an interview with ABC Wednesday that he believes Vladimir Putin is a "killer," and promised that the Russian president will "pay a price" for interfering in the 2020 U.S. elections.

Why it matters: Biden has pledged to take a hard line against the Kremlin, which has a history of attempting to assassinate and imprison dissidents and political opponents.

  • The U.S. intelligence community released a report on Tuesday assessing that Putin authorized election influence operations aimed at denigrating Biden's candidacy, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the election and sowing divisions.
  • The U.S. also sanctioned seven senior Russian officials earlier this month over the poisoning and jailing of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who is currently serving out a sentence in a remote Russian labor camp.

What they're saying: While Biden confirmed that he does believe Putin is a killer, he also added that it's possible to "walk and chew gum at the same time for places where it's in our mutual interest to to work together" — addressing his decision to extend the New START nuclear arms control pact earlier this year.

  • "He will pay a price. We had a long talk, he and I. I know him relatively well and the conversation started off, I said, 'I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred then be prepared,'" Biden said when asked how the U.S. should respond to Russia's election interference.

Referencing President George W. Bush's famous comments about getting a "sense" of Putin's "soul," Biden told ABC: "I said, 'I looked in your eyes and I don't think you have a soul.' He looked back and said we understand each other."

  • "Look, the most important thing in dealing with foreign leaders in my experience, and I've dealt with an awful lot of them in my career, is just know the other guy."

Flashback: Former President Trump said in a 2017 interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that he has "respect" for Putin.

  • O'Reilly responded that "Putin is a killer," to which Trump said: "There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?"

Go deeper

Study: Key Antarctic ice shelf is speeding up its collapse

Pine Island Glacier calves several new icebergs on Feb. 11, 2020, as seen via satellite. Photo: NASA Earth Observatory

The Pine Island Glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is responsible for more than a quarter of Antarctica's contribution to global sea level rise over the past decades. Now, a new study shows it is more vulnerable to rapid melting than thought, because climate change is weakening its natural braking system.

Why it matters: At stake is the future of a glacier containing about 160 trillion tons of ice, which if it were all to melt into the ocean would cause about 1.6 feet of global sea level rise.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Workers are taking power back

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

American workers have been losing power since 1980 — but now the tables are turning.

Why it matters: The 2010s gave us the gig economy and left millions of workers stranded seemingly forever on the precipice of financial ruin. The 2020s could be the decade when workers seize back the reins of power.

Teachers across the U.S. protest laws restricting racism lessons

Thousands of teachers and other educators held protests across the U.S. Saturday against the actions of "at least 15 Republican-led states" that aim to restrict teaching about racism in class, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: There were demonstrations in at least 22 cities for the "Day of Action" to raise awareness about moves to limit students' exposure to critical race theory, which links racial discrimination to the nation's foundations and legal system, per Axios' Russell Contreras.

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