President Biden on Tuesday warned that cyberattacks could lead to a “shooting war” while disparaging Russian President Vladimir Putin as desperate and “dangerous.”
Biden’s 26-minute speech to spy agency workers also featured the president stooping behind his podium to deliver a wide-eyed stage whisper after mimicking a country-bumpkin accent.
“We see how cyberattacks including ransomware attacks increasingly are able to cause damage in the real world,” Biden told workers at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in Virginia.
“I can’t guarantee this, and you’re as informed as I am, but I think it’s more likely we’re going to end up — if we end up in a war, a real shooting war with a world power, it’s going to be as a result of a cyber breach of great consequence.”
Biden, who met with Putin last month in Geneva, Switzerland, added that “Mr. Putin, he has a real problem.”
“He’s sitting atop an economy that has nuclear weapons and oil wells and nothing else — nothing else,” Biden said.
“Their economy is what, the eighth smallest in the world now — largest in the world? He knows, he knows he’s in real trouble, which makes him even more dangerous.”
The US government believes that hackers based in Russia this year shut down the Colonial Pipeline on the East Coast, causing gas stations to run dry. Biden has called on Putin to crack down on the criminals.
Biden added Tuesday that he had an “altar call” with Putin in Geneva about Arctic policy — appropriating a rural accent to underscore his point.
“A dramatically warming Arctic is opening up competition for resources that once were hard to access. I had as they say in southern Delaware — they talk at ye like this, you know what I mean? — I had a come to Jesus meeting, an altar call, with Mr. Putin about what he thinks is what Russia’s property is in the Arctic,” Biden said.
The president hunched on the stage to whisper when he noted that intelligence community workers rank their workplace highly relative to other agencies.
A stooped Biden whispered, “I said don’t tell me what the White House is ranked, it would hurt my feelings.”
Biden also knocked Putin for alleged Russian intervention in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections. He said his daily presidential brief on Tuesday contained new details.
“If we look at what Russia is doing already about the 2022 elections, the misinformation, it’s a pure violation of our sovereignty,” Biden said.
Biden was less aggressive toward Chinese President Xi Jinping — despite Biden ordering in May a 90-day spy agency review to determine if COVID-19 emerged from a lab in Wuhan, China.
Biden said that as vice president he “spent more time with Xi Jinping as a world leader than anyone else.”
“He is deadly earnest about becoming the most powerful military force in the world as well as the largest most prominent economy in the world by the mid 40s,” Biden said.
“As we say in southern Delaware, this boy’s got a plan. And, you know, we better figure out how we’re gonna keep pace without exacerbating and moving us into a position where we increase the hostilities unnecessarily.”