Biden Denounces Putin, Saying He 'Cannot Remain in Power'

Kremlin says that's Russia's decision, and White House aide says it wasn't a call for a regime change
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2022 3:00 PM CDT
After Meeting Refugees, Biden Delivers Denunciation of Putin
A crowd listens to President Biden on Saturday at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – President Biden denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin in his strongest terms yet on Saturday, calling him "a butcher" after meeting with Ukrainian refugees and saying he "cannot remain in power" in a forceful speech in Warsaw. Biden's declaration came at the end of an address intended to encourage unity among NATO allies against the Russian invasion of Ukraine and was the first time he'd called for Putin's removal, CNBC reports. A Kremlin spokesman answered that Putin's future isn't up to the US. "This is not to be decided by Mr. Biden," Dmitry Peskov said, per CNN. "It should only be a choice of the people of the Russian Federation."

A White House aide immediately tried to temper the president's words—"For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power"—by saying Biden wasn't calling for Putin's overthrow in what appeared to be a spontaneous statement. "The president's point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region," the official said, per the Washington Post. "He was not discussing Putin's power in Russia or regime change." But Biden circled back to attack Putin repeatedly during his speech, the final event of the president's three-day trip to Poland. With the invasion, he said, Putin is "using brute force and disinformation to satisfy a craving for absolute power and control."

Biden implored the world's democracies to unite in defense of Ukraine and warned, "We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead." He especially called out Putin for arguing that the goal of the invasion is "de-Nazify" Ukraine. "It's a lie," Biden said, speaking outside the Royal Castle, which was rebuilt after being destroyed by Nazi Germany's forces in World War II. He also addressed Putin's constituents directly. "This is not the future you deserve for your families and children," Biden said. "I'm telling you the truth, this war is not worthy of you, the Russian people." (Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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