The Washington Times
While Russia is fighting a war in Ukraine with tanks and missiles, it is engaged in another war, one fought with words, with the U.S. The back and forth between the two countries began earlier this week when President Biden labeled Russian President Vladimir Putin “a war criminal.” Moscow fired back on Friday by raising questions about Mr. Biden’s cognitive abilities. Both sides have escalated their rhetoric, underscoring how the clash between the U.S. and Russia has become a personal rivalry. “It is not common during a war for presidents to talk like this,” said Robert Rowland, who teaches presidential rhetoric at the University of Kansas. “Usually presidents try to avoid personalizing an issue to make sure he or she was giving the other foreign leader an off-ramp.” By describing Mr. Putin as a “war criminal,” Mr. Biden’s comments marked a shift in the rhetoric. He previously condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but stopped short of saying whether Mr. Putin had committed war crimes. Mr. Biden doubled down on his comments the next day, calling Mr. Putin a “murderous dictator” and a “pure thug.” “You have Ireland and Great Britain … standing together against a murderous dictator, a pure thug who is waging an immoral war against the people of Ukraine,” he said at a St. Patrick’s Day event at the Capitol. The comments signal the administration’s new strategy of characterizing Mr. Putin as a brazen killer who should face a trial for war crimes.