President Joe Biden on Thursday escalated his criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine calling him a “pure thug” and a “violent dictator.”

Biden made the comments during the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon on St. Patrick’s Day at Capitol Hill, where he credited Ireland and Britain for unifying in efforts with other nations to punish Russia for launching the deadly war.

“Now you have Ireland and Great Britain and, you know, the Republic standing together against a murderous dictator, a pure thug, who is waging an immoral war against the people of Ukraine,” Biden said.

He also commended the cooperation between Ireland and the United States noting that it had joined the United Nations Security Council for the first time allowing them to help impose sanctions and other penalties against Russia.

“Putin is paying a big price for his aggression,” Biden said. “And they are part of the reason this cost is going so high.”

The comments came a day after Biden referred to Putin as a war criminal and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that Biden’s remarks were “absolutely unacceptable and inexcusable.”

Biden also praised lawmakers at the meeting for working together to pass $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine as part of a broader $1.5 trillion spending bill.

“We should have more times like this where Democrats and Republicans get together and we actually not only agree on one thing, but we remind ourselves we actually like each other,” he said.

The president was introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who recited a poem by U2 lead singer Bono that ended with a reference to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“And they struggle for us to be free, from the psycho in this human family. Ireland’s sorrow and pain, is now the Ukraine, and Saint Patrick’s name now Zelensky,” Pelosi recited from the poem.

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin was originally scheduled to take part in the luncheon but tested positive for COVID-19 late Wednesday.

Biden said during the luncheon that he spoke to Martin on Zoom and that he “feels well” and “looks good” following the diagnosis.

“He’s really sorry he can’t be here and he was looking forward to it, as was his wife,” Biden said.

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