U.S. Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith praised President Joe Biden’s “pitch perfect” speech in Poland, then immediately walked back his calls for a Russian regime change on CNN’s “State of the Union” Friday.
Smith pushed back against Biden appearing to call for regime change in Russia during his Saturday address in Warsaw, Poland, where he exclaimed “this man cannot remain in power.” The White House immediately pushed back claiming the president was not discussing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s power.
“In the moment, I think that was a principled, human reaction to the stories that he had heard that day, but no, as you heard from Secretary [Antony] Blinken and others, the U.S. does not have a policy of regime change in Russia, full stop,” Smith said.
Host Dana Bash pressed Smith on whether she and administration officials are “undermining” the president by walking back his comment. Smith said Biden successfully visited with Ukrainian refugees, European officials and Polish President Andrzej Duda to come together during the crisis. (RELATED: ‘Take This Guy Out’: Sen. Lindsey Graham Calls For Assassination Of Putin)
“This week has been remarkable, it’s been historic. I thought the speech was completely pitch perfect, and I think this will set us on a good course for continuing to support the allies, support Ukrainians and apply pressure on Russia to get them to stop this war.”
Bash then asked Smith whether U.S. policy calls for Putin to remain in power due to its opposition to call for regime change. The ambassador said the administration “believes that we cannot empower” the Russian president to continue to “wage war” and “pursue … acts of aggression” in Ukraine.
The administration has confirmed its stance on not supporting regime change since the beginning of the war. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS News in early March that it is the responsibility of the Russian people to decide who leads their nation.