‘This man Cannot Stay in Power’ – White House Backtracks Regime Change Remarks
US President Biden attacked Putin with sharp words in Warsaw. The White House and Secretary of State Blinken quickly backtracked, but Russian politicians reacted with outrage to Biden’s speech.
US President Joe Biden caused a stir with his speech in Warsaw on Saturday. In light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he said Russian President Vladimir Putin was a “butcher”, “war criminal”, and “murderous dictator”. “For God’s sake, this man can’t stay in power.”
Immediately after the speech, the US tried to clarify Biden’s statement. Biden did not call for regime change. Rather, he meant by his statement that Putin should not exercise any power over his neighbouring countries or the region.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a similar statement. He stressed that the United States does not seek a change of power in Russia. “As you know, and as you hear us say repeatedly, we have no strategy for regime change in Russia or anywhere else,” Blinken said. The US condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine but has no plans to overthrow Putin, Blinken assured in Jerusalem. “It’s for the Russian people to decide.”
At a press conference with his Israeli counterpart Jair Lapid in Jerusalem, Blinken said the point was that Putin “cannot be authorized to wage war against Ukraine or any other country.”
Nevertheless, politicians in Moscow reacted with outrage: Biden made statements and mistakes with “terrifying regularity” that were worse than crimes, said the prominent Russian foreign politician Konstantin Kosatschow. There were times when a US president’s word carried weight, but that’s over now, said the chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian Federation Council.
The Kremlin also made it clear on Saturday evening that it was not the United States that decided on leadership in Russia. “Biden does not decide that the Russian people elect the president of Russia,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
The Russian head of parliament Vyacheslav Volodin accused the US president of “undiplomatic statements” and “hysteria”. “Biden is weak, sick and unhappy,” Volodin commented on Telegram. “US citizens should be ashamed of their president. He may be ill. It would be right if Biden were to undergo a medical examination.” Putin, on the other hand, deserves respect for his “restraint”.
Image by Gage Skidmore (Flickr)/Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)