Biden is in the White House, Putin is in his bunker.
They talk via a special channel using advanced Zoom technology and they both fill their respective screens.
While not visible, in the room with Biden are Kamala Harris, Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan.
Two unnamed assistants sit near Putin.
Biden — It’s time to end this.
Putin — Are you speaking for Zelensky?
Biden — No… he speaks for himself.
Putin — What do you propose?
Biden — You pull back to behind your borders… and agree to pay reparations.
Putin — You’re mad.
Biden — You’ve just mobilized 300 thousand Russians to fight in Ukraine… 300 thousand men not well trained, and vulnerable to getting killed or maimed because they’re no match for Ukrainians… and for what?
Putin — I have a dream of a greater Russia… a Russia that will be respected everywhere… consulted in all important decisions…
Biden — You’ve had more than 20 years to do that… and you didn’t do it.
Putin lowers his eyes.
Biden — In those 20 years, China rose to become the second most important economy in the world… even though they were still denying their people the freedom of speech… but they let them create, invent, copy from the West which they were clever to invite in. But all the while in Russia, the power stayed concentrated on you and your oligarch friends. Now China is running into other problems which will limit their growth, but we won’t talk about that this moment.
Putin — I admit they have done better than us… but they’re not better than us… like you’re not better than us.
Biden — I agree… but we work hard to assure the freedom of all our people… citizens and residents… immigrants from all over the world who come in search of liberty and opportunity.
Putin — You’re a racist country.
Biden — We have been… and maybe still are… but we keep working on it.
The two men look at each other directly.
Biden — You started this war… not because you were being threatened… but because of…