Fox News reports that President Joe Biden just gave a speech in which he declared that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”
So much for the de-escalatory approach that Biden and his administration have claimed to use in their response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“For God’s sake”
Biden’s declaration came during a speech that he gave in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday. Biden stopped by Poland, after his NATO meeting, to address, among other things, the humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Poland, according to reports, has taken in more than 4 million Ukrainian refugees.
Towards the end of his speech, Biden, referring to Putin, said, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
It is unclear whether or not this remark was scripted or not.
What Biden said marks a sharp departure from comments that he and his White House have said in the past.
It wasn’t too long ago that Sen. Linsey Graham (R-SC) called for Putin to be assassinated. Graham, eventually, walked back his statement. In the meantime, the White House put out a statement making it clear that it does not agree with Graham.
“That is not the position of the United States government and certainly not a statement you’d hear come from the mouth of anybody in this administration,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at the time. She added, “No, we are not advocating for killing the leader of a foreign country or regime change – that is not the policy of the United States.”
The problem now is that Biden just said what Psaki promised he and his administration wouldn’t, namely, that Putin needs to go.
Accordingly, following Biden’s speech in Poland, the White House was forced to enter into damage control mode. Their strategy was, more or less, to deny what Biden explicitly said during his speech.
“The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region,” the White House said. “He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”
Putin has yet to respond to Biden’s speech. The obvious concern is that Biden just significantly escalated the situation.