Joe Biden said during a speech in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”
As he concluded the address at the Royal Castle he said that Ukraine will “never be a victory” for the Russians because free people “refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness.” Biden said that the Ukrainians have a future “rooted in democracy and principle” before adding the declaration that Putin must be removed. The speech came immediately after Biden met with refugees from Ukraine, several Ukrainian officials, and Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Moments later, a White House spokesperson said that Biden was not actually calling for regime change. The official said that Biden’s point was that Putin must not be “allowed to exercise power over his neighbors,” and added that the president was not talking about Putin’s power inside Russia.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) wrote on Twitter on Saturday that Biden’s recent confusion and White House corrections about chemical weapons, American troop deployment inside Ukraine, and now regime change in Russia cast doubt on his continuing competence to handle “The Football.” Issa was referring to the case carrying the codes needed to launch a nuclear counterattack or strike that accompanies the president at all times.
Biden also reaffirmed America’s obligation to defend all NATO allies during his speech. Although Ukraine is not part of NATO, member nations Poland and the Baltic states border Russia and are being impacted by the invasion of Ukraine in various ways.
The president warned Putin to not “even think about moving on one single inch of NATO territory.”
Former Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard posted a comment on Sunday indicating her belief that Biden is actually signaling the administration’s intent to involve the U.S. in military action to change the Russian regime. She added that Biden’s “true intent” will have “catastrophic consequences for America and the world.”
On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron commented on Biden’s speech by cautioning against escalation of the conflict in Ukraine. He added that he would not use similar wording because he wants to stop the war if possible through discussions with Putin. Macron added that his goal is obtaining a cease-fire agreement and then a “total withdrawal” of Russian forces from Ukraine.
While Biden was in Poland, the western Ukrainian city of Lviv was targeted by an apparent missile attack. Lviv has been largely spared so far during the Russian invasion and the recent strike did not cause any reported casualties although it did damage a fuel storage facility.