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Biden says Putin ‘cannot remain in power,’ the White House says otherwise

WARSAW — In a fastidiously crafted speech aimed toward rallying the world’s help for Ukraine, it was an ad-libbed line that caught the Kremlin’s consideration. 

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden mentioned of Russian President Vladimir Putin — an attention-grabbing line a supply conversant in the scenario mentioned wasn’t included within the ready remarks. 

As some famous the remark appeared like a name for regime change in Russia, the White House rapidly issued a press release saying in any other case.

“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,” mentioned a White House official in a press release despatched extensively to reporters. 

But the Kremlin was fast to grab on the comment. “That’s not for Biden to decide,” Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Reuters. “The president of Russia is elected by Russians.” Russia has for years accused the U.S. and its allies of making an attempt to hold out regime change in its nation.

It was certainly one of a number of moments on his journey this week when the White House discovered itself trying to make clear Biden’s feedback as administration officers work to hold out a fastidiously crafted technique to put stress on Putin to finish the struggle with out escalating the battle past Ukraine’s borders. 

Earlier within the day Saturday, whereas visiting a refugee heart in Warsaw, Biden made information with one other unscripted comment. When he was requested for his response to Putin’s actions in Ukraine, Biden instructed the reporter: “He’s a butcher.” 

A day earlier, when talking to U.S. troops stationed in Poland, Biden made remarks that appeared to recommend these troops would quickly be going to Ukraine, though he has mentioned beforehand he won’t ship U.S. forces into the nation.

“Look at how they’re stepping up. And you’re gonna see when you’re there, and some of you have been there, you’re gonna see,” Biden instructed the troops. “You’re gonna see women, young people, stand in the middle, in front of a damn tank, just saying ‘I’m not leaving. I’m holding my ground.’ They are incredible.”

When requested in regards to the president’s remark then, a White House spokesperson instructed NBC News that “the President has been clear we are not sending U.S. troops to Ukraine and there is no change in that position.”

In Brussels earlier within the week, Biden contradicted previous statements by Vice President Kamala Harris and different senior officers across the goal of sanctions, saying they “never deter.”

Last month, Harris mentioned “the purpose of the sanctions has always been, and continues to be, deterrence.” That identical day, secretary of state Antony Blinken mentioned “the purpose of the sanctions, in the first instance, is to try to deter Russia.”

Before heading off for his trip to Europe this week, Biden also contradicted his own administration over whether Putin was committing war crimes — broaching rhetorical ground his team had long avoided. When asked last week at the White House whether he was ready to call Putin a war criminal, Biden responded, “no.” He later came back, asked reporters to repeat the question, and said: “I think he is a war criminal.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki says President Joe Biden was “speaking from his heart” when he described Putin that way, but that there is a legal process that will determine whether the Russian leader has technically committed war crimes.

This week, the State Department formally said Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, but didn’t specifically name Putin. 

Kristen Welker and Kelly O’Donnell contributed.

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