The US Administration has scrambled to try and clarify apparently unscripted comments made by President Joe Biden, in which he appeared to call for ‘regime change’ in Russia.
At the end of a speech in Warsaw on Saturday, Biden said Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”
The White House had to qualify those comments saying: “What the President meant was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region.”
“He was not talking about Putin’s power in Russia, nor about regime change” the White House stated.
Biden’s seemingly ad lib comments drew criticism from commentators in the US and Europe.
American cable news host Mehdi Hassan called it “Biden’s first major misstep”; while California Representative Darrell Issa, and others, pointed out a number of errors Biden had made recently which the White House had to later clarify; and BBC News Foreign Editor Paul Danahar called the comments a calamitous gaffe, saying: “It totally plays to Putin’s agenda and makes negotiating with the Kremlin much, much harder.”
Meanwhile in Jerusalem on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also had to do damage control over Biden’s remarks, saying the US is not trying to topple the Russian president, despite harsh condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
At a news conference in Jerusalem, Blinken said Biden’s point was that “Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else.”
Blinken stated that the US has repeatedly said “we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia, or anywhere else for that matter.”
“In this case, as in any case, it’s up to the people of the country in question. It’s up to the Russian people,” Blinken said.
The comments Biden made on Saturday drew a sharp response from Moscow,