WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 24: U.S. President Joe Biden departs after delivering remarks about Russia's unprovoked and unjustified" military invasion of neighboring Ukraine in the East Room of the White House on February 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. Biden announced a new round of sanctions against Russia after President Vladimir Putin launched an attack on Ukraine from the land, sea and air on Thursday. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Joe Biden always says foreign relations is about relationships, and he’s been developing the one he has with Vladimir Putin for two decades.

Biden warned that Putin had dreams of rebuilding an authoritarian empire going all the way back to his days as a senator from Delaware. On the campaign trail, he said repeatedly that he knew Putin didn’t want him to win.

Since the beginning of his time as President, Biden has relied on his sense of the Russian leader to guide his own response. It’s even guided the way Biden deals with Putin in their conversations, repeatedly interrupting what he and aides see as the Russian President’s strategy of going off on tangents meant to muddle and undermine.

According to a dozen interviews with White House officials, members of Congress and others involved in the effort, Biden has deliberately worked with allies abroad to deny the Russian leader the one-on-one, Washington vs. Moscow dynamic that the President and his aides think Putin wants. Publicly and privately talking about the war as a fight for freedom and democracy, Biden has left other leaders to speak with Putin.

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