CARBIS BAY, England: U.S. President Joe Biden said on Sunday that Russia might be weaker than appears, noting that Moscow may well have over-reached by extending its military into the Middle East.
Biden also called Putin an "autocrat", agreeing that relations between the United States and Russia were at their lowest point in years.
Biden made his comments at the G7 summit in Carbis Bay to warn that the world's richest democracies are facing an existential contest with "autocrats", that could determine the future of the 21st Century.
Following Monday's NATO summit, Biden will meet Putin on June 16 in Geneva. Some observers believe the meeting could be tense due to ongoing disputes over spying, hacking, election meddling, Ukraine, Belarus and human rights.
This past March, Biden called Putin, a former KGB chief, a "killer", noting that Russia is engaging in unacceptable behavior.
"Autocrats have enormous power and they don't have to answer to a public, and the fact is that it may very well be if I respond in kind, as I will, that it doesn't dissuade him - he wants to keep going," Biden said of Putin.
Biden and Putin have for years had a rocky relationship. However, relations continued to deteriorate after Putin sought to rebuild some of the influence Russia lost in the 1991 Soviet collapse, as it began operating its military beyond Russia's borders.
Increasingly, the U.S. and many Western leaders see Putin and Xi Jinping's China as their main strategic threats.
The West views Russia as a dictatorial kleptocracy that acted irresponsibly during the 2014 annexation of Crimea, as well as during attempts to meddle in U.S. and European elections, along with a series of high-profile espionage and assassination attempts abroad.
"Russia has its own dilemmas, dealing with its economy, dealing with COVID and dealing with not only the United States and Europe writ large, and in the Middle East," Biden said.
"Russia has engaged in activities which we believe are contrary to international norms, but they have also bitten off some real problems, that they're going to have trouble chewing on," Biden added.