Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday insisted that the US is not seeking regime change in Russia, the latest attempt by the administration to clean up President Biden’s comments that President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”
“I think the president, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else,” Blinken said during a visit to Jerusalem.
“As you know, and as you have heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia — or anywhere else, for that matter,” the US’ top diplomat said.
“As in any case, it’s up to the people of the country in question. It’s up to the Russians,” Blinken said.
Biden raised eyebrows during a speech Saturday in Warsaw after he tore into the Russian leader over the Ukrainian invasion that appeared to escalate the tensions between Washington and Moscow.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said in a speech at Warsaw’s Royal Castle.
“This man cannot remain in power,” President Biden said about Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.Evan Vucci/AP
“A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase a people’s love of liberty,” Biden said. “Free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness.”
The fiery address came just hours after Biden called Putin a “butcher” while he was visiting a refugee center for Ukrainians in Poland.
The White House was quick to tamp down the explosive comments.
Secretary Antony Blinken clarified that “President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else.”Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AP
“The president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region,” a White House official told reporters as Biden’s motorcade headed to the airport in Warsaw to return to the US. “He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said later that Biden doesn’t get to decide Putin’s fate.
”The president of Russia is elected by Russians,” he said.
President Biden also called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “butcher” while he was visiting a refugee center for Ukrainians in Poland.Piotr Molecki/East News /Polaris
Biden’s speech came as he finished up a visit to Europe in which he pressed NATO allies to remain united in standing against Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, a month after Russia sent hundreds of thousands of troops across the border into its eastern neighbor.
Putin has been accused of causing a humanitarian crisis in eastern Europe with his attack, which has targeted civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, residential buildings and shopping centers.
In his speech, Biden said Putin will not prevail in Ukraine as long as Europe is united against him and the Ukrainian people defy the military onslaught.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that President Biden doesn’t get to decide President Vladimir Putin’s fate.Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin/Sputnik/Pool/EPA
“A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase a people’s love for liberty. Brutality will never grind down their will to be free. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia — for free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness,” he said.
And while the US and its allies have imposed widespread economic sanctions on Russia and supplied weapons to Ukraine, they have not deployed NATO or American troops inside the country over fears of escalating the fighting.
With Post wires