US President Joe Biden admitted on Tuesday that Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns were the primary cause of runaway inflation, but still blamed his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for high gas prices at home. Biden’s domestic popularity has suffered amid the worst inflation since 1981.
The White House has tried to blame the inflation on Russia’s military operation in Ukraine for the past six weeks, insisting on the phrase “Putin price hike” to describe the skyrocketing prices at the pump. Biden dutifully repeated the talking point in a speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday, but then “demoted” Russia as the principal culprit.
There were “two reasons” for the high prices, Biden said. “The first was Covid. Because of the pandemic, we had disruptions in our supply of important materials, so prices went up.” He followed that up by attempting to explain the supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic lockdowns back in 2020.
“And the second big reason for inflation is Vladimir Putin, not a joke,” he then said. “Last month, about 70% of the increase in inflation was the consequence of Putin’s price hike because of the impact of gas and energy prices.”
The White House has been using the “Putin price hike” talking point since banning the import of Russian oil and gas to the US on March 8. The Russian president responded by saying Moscow had “absolutely nothing to do with” rising US gas prices, as Russia’s exports to the US were “negligible” to begin with.
“They just hide behind these decisions in order to deceive once again their own population,” Putin said last month.