Responding to President Joe Biden's remark that he thinks the Russian president is a "killer," Vladimir Putin on Thursday suggested the US leader should take stock of his own flaws and wished him "good health."
Putin's remarks on state TV came after Biden answered "I do" to a reporter's question as to whether he considered Putin a "killer."
Biden's answer in the interview with ABC News sparked a firestorm of criticism from the top echelons of power in Moscow and led to the Russian ambassador to Washington being recalled.
"What would I say to him in response?" said Putin when asked his thoughts about Biden. "I would tell him: 'Stay healthy!' I wish him good health."
Putin said his well wishes were not to be taken ironically, according to comments cited by Russia's TASS news agency.
The long-time Russian leader then delved into psychology, suggesting Biden was projecting his own anxieties onto a rival.
"In the history of any people and any country there are many grave, dramatic and bloody events," Putin said on television, according to TASS. "But when we rate other peoples or other countries, we look at them as if in a mirror, because we always see ourselves and attribute to other people the gist of our own character."
"We often tend to see our own qualities in other people and think that other people are like us, and from this standpoint we assess their actions and character in general," Putin said.
Since taking office, Biden's more aggressive approach - including criticism of Russia's human rights and the threat of tougher US sanctions - has not sat well in Moscow.
US intelligence services said on Tuesday that Russia tried to help former president Donald Trump win re-election in 2020. The Kremlin rejected this.
Before Putin's interview, the Kremlin was more explicit when talking about Biden's "killer" comment.
"I'm just saying that these are very bad statements by the President of the United States," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.
"Of course there has never been anything like it in history," said Peskov, describing US-Russian relations as "very bad" and accusing Biden of showing no interest in improving the relationship.
The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday ordered its ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, back to Moscow to protest Biden's remarks. During consultations with Antonov in Moscow, the state of relations with the US will be examined, the ministry said.
The deputy head of the Russian Federation Council, the upper house of the Federal Assembly, demanded an apology from the White House and threatened further action if it did not materialize.
Meanwhile, the EU on Thursday chimed in and also pointed towards the political responsibility of Putin for assassination attempts in Russia.
"There is, sadly, a long list of failed and successful assassination attempts carried out against critical and independent figures in Russia, including politicians and journalists," Nabila Massrali, spokesperson for EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, said.
"Many of these cases have not been investigated, remain unresolved and the perpetrators have not been brought to justice," she added.
The EU had imposed sanctions against members of the Russian military, the intelligence or the Russian chemical research agency, Massrali said.
The EU and US imposed a wave of sanctions on Moscow in the wake of the assassination attempt against leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who is now behind bars in a penal colony.
"As president of the Russian Federation you know that Vladimir Putin ultimately has responsibility for the Russian authorities, policy and actions," she added.