President Joe Biden told reporters Sunday that he was not calling for regime change when he said Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”
Biden made the declaration at the end of his speech Saturday in Warsaw, Poland. The speech marked the end of the president’s multi-day trip to Europe, where he met with other world leaders regarding Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power!” Biden said at the time.
The White House quickly walked back his comments, with an official saying that the president “was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.” The official said Biden’s “point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region.”
The president was pressed on his comments as he left a Washington, D.C., church Sunday evening, with one reporter asking if he wants “Putin removed” and whether he was “calling for regime change.”
“No,” Biden shouted back.
Departing church in Washington, Biden tells reporters he was not calling for regime change in Russia pic.twitter.com/7DHMoUe8T5
— Trevor Hunnicutt (@TrevorNews) March 27, 2022
The president did not elaborate further, offering no explanation in his own words as to what he meant by the comment. (RELATED: Biden Admin Will Welcome Up To 100,000 Refugees Fleeing Russian Aggression In Ukraine)
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pushed back on Biden’s call shortly after his speech, CNN reported at the time. Peskov, according to CNN, said the decision of who is in power in Russia “should only be a choice of the people of the Russian Federation.”
The president’s apparent call for Putin’s removal marked just the latest in a series of comments made during his Europe trip that the White House sought to clarify.
During a press conference in Belgium, the president said the U.S. would respond “in kind” if Russia uses chemical weapons in Ukraine. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters during a press briefing shortly afterwards that Biden was not implying that the U.S. would respond with chemical weapons of their own.
Multiple times on this trip the WH has clarified Biden’s remarks:
– US won’t use chemical weapons after Biden says US would respond to Russian chemical attack “in kind”
– US troops won’t go to Ukraine after telling 82nd airborne of what horror they’re “about to see”
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) March 26, 2022
“You heard him in another answer say we’ll respond accordingly — meaning, you know, we will select the form and nature of our response based on the nature of the action Russia takes, and we’ll do so in coordination with our Allies,” Sullivan said. “And we’ve communicated to the Russians, as the President said publicly a couple of weeks ago, that there will be a severe price if Russia uses chemical weapons.”
“And I won’t go beyond that other than to say the United States has no intention of using chemical weapons, period, under any circumstances,” he added.
Another clarification came after Biden spoke with U.S. troops stationed in Poland. During those remarks, Biden described the horrors of what the troops are “going to see when you’re there [Ukraine].”
“You’re going to see – you’re going to see women, young people standing – standing in the middle of, in front of a damn tank, just saying, ‘I’m not leaving. I’m holding my ground,'” Biden said.
UPDATE: A @WhiteHouse spokesperson tells me: “The President has been clear we are not sending U.S. troops to Ukraine and there is no change in that position.”
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) March 25, 2022
The administration has repeatedly said that they are not considering sending troops into Ukraine, and the White House said Biden’s position remained the same despite his comments to U.S. troops.
“The President has been clear we are not sending U.S. troops to Ukraine and there is no change in that position,” a White House spokesperson later told The Independent’s Andrew Feinberg.