Turkey's Erdogan says it's 'unacceptable' that Biden called Putin a 'killer' and is 'not something that can be stomached'

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Biden Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and then-Vice President Joe Biden attend a press conference after a meeting at the Beylerbeyi Palace on November 22, 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey. Kayhan Ozer/Getty Images
  • Erdogan said Biden referring to Putin as a "killer" is "truly unacceptable."

  • "Mr. Biden's statements about Mr. Putin are not fitting of a president," Erdogan said.

  • US-Turkey relations have been increasingly strained in recent years, despite being NATO allies.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday was critical of President Joe Biden for recently stating that he views Russian President Vladimir Putin as a killer, in the latest sign of the increasingly strained relations between Turkey and the US.

"Mr. Biden's statements about Mr. Putin are not fitting of a president, and a president coming out and using such remarks against the president of a country like Russia is truly unacceptable, not something that can be stomached," Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, per Reuters.

During an ABC News interview that aired Wednesday, host George Stephanopoulos asked Biden he thought Putin was a killer. "I do," Biden replied.

Putin's critics have often ended up dying in violent or mysterious ways.

In response, Russia withdrew its US ambassador and Putin invited Biden to hold a public debate.

"I want to propose to President Biden to continue our discussion, but on the condition that we do it basically live, as it's called," Putin told a Russian state television reporter on Thursday. "Without any delays and directly in an open, direct discussion. It seems to me that would be interesting for the people of Russia and for the people of the US."

Erdogan said Putin "has done what is necessary by giving a very, very smart and elegant answer."

The White House did not offer a comment on Erdogan's remarks when contacted by Insider.

Turkey is viewed as an important NATO ally by the US, making Erdogan's criticism of Biden in defense of a Russian president significant.

That said, relations between the US and Turkey have increasingly been on shaky ground over the past few years as Erdogan has adopted a more autocratic leadership style and made moves perceived as going against US interests - such as targeting the US-backed Kurds in Syria and purchasing the S-400 missile defense system from Russia. The Trump administration in December hit Turkey with sanctions over the S-400 deal.

Former President Donald Trump had a friendly relationship with Erdogan, even as US-Turkey relations were hitting a rough patch. Biden has been more openly critical of Erdogan, and along the campaign trail referred to the Turkish leader as an "autocrat." Even before he was inaugurated as president, Turkey was expected to pose a challenge for Biden.

Friday's commentary was only the latest verbal attack from Erdogan aimed at the US. Last month, the Turkish president accused the US of being "behind" Kurdish militants after 13 Turkish hostages were killed in Iraq.

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