On Saturday, President Joe Biden addressed the Russian people by comparing their government’s invasion of Ukraine to World War II – and he also said Vladimir Putin cannot “remain in power.”
The explicit call for regime change at such an important speech has already caused major trouble for the White House, and will be certain to have repercussions for America’s foreign policy going forward.
Biden made his remarks during a speech in Warsaw, Poland in front of the Royal Castle, a landmark there due to it being significantly damaged during the Second World War.
"For god's sake this man can not remain in power!"
After denying NATO enlargement has anything to do with destabilizing Russia, Biden closes his Poland address with a stentorian demand for regime change in Moscow.
Washington's ultimate goal, made plain. pic.twitter.com/vjg6Vxs7dw
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) March 26, 2022
Biden Calls For Regime Change In Russia
Biden’s speech in Poland appears to have been an attempt at a legacy-defining moment, heavy with references to Pope John Paul, WWII, and reminders about the Soviet Union.
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Biden assured Russian citizens that they are not “our enemy” as he compared Russia’s invasion to World War II atrocities.
“These are not the actions of a great nation,” Biden said of Putin’s actions.
“Of all people, you the Russian people, as well as all people across Europe still have the memory of being in a similar situation in the 30s and 40s, the situation of World War Two, still fresh in the mind of many grandparents in the region,” the president continued.
Biden called for regime change in Russia.
No matter how much the White House will try to [once again] walk his words back, the tape doesn’t lie. This is one of the most dangerous things a President has uttered when confronting another nuclear power. He + his advisors are unfit.
— Murray 🇺🇸 (@Rothbard1776) March 26, 2022
Biden revisited recollections of what the World War II generation went through in Russia.
“Whatever your generation experienced, whether it experienced the siege of Leningrad, or heard about it from your parents and grandparents, train stations overflowing with terrified families fleeing their homes, nights sheltering in basements and cellars, mornings sifting through the rubble in your home – these are not memories of the past – not any more, it’s exactly what the Russian army is doing in Ukraine right now,” Biden said.
As he was wrapping up his carefully planned speech, Biden then blurted out a call for regime change.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” the president said.
White House tries to walk back
The White House almost immediately tried to walk back what Biden had said, that Putin “cannot remain in power.
A White House official said that “The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”
Secretary of State Tony Blinken offered a similar explanation, saying, “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.”
USA Today wonders of Biden’s comments, “Was it a gaffe or an escalation? Biden prompts concern after saying Putin ‘cannot remain in power'”
Biden himself walked back his own comments:
Top American diplomats on Sunday had played down his declaration, and Biden, asked by a reporter as he departed a church service in Washington if he was calling for regime change in Russia, gave a one-word reply: “No.”
A number of people of note thought the walk back won’t be enough to convince Putin that the U.S. actually seeks to remove him from power.
The White House walk back of @POTUS regime change call is unlikely to wash. Putin will see it as confirmation of what he’s believed all along. Bad lapse in discipline that runs risk of extending the scope and duration of the war.
— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) March 26, 2022
Council on Foreign Relations president and former Special Assistant to former President George H.W. Bush Richard Haass wrote on Twitter, “The White House walk back of [POTUS] regime change call is unlikely to wash. Putin will see it as confirmation of what he’s believed all along.”
“Bad lapse in discipline that runs risk of extending the scope and duration of the war,” Haas added.
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