White House In Disaster Mode Trying To Walk Back Joe Biden’s Call For Regime Change In Moscow

On Saturday, President Joe Biden addressed the Russian people by comparing their government’s invasion of Ukraine to World War II – and he also said Vladimir Putin cannot “remain in power.”

The explicit call for regime change at such an important speech has already caused major trouble for the White House, and will be certain to have repercussions for America’s foreign policy going forward.

Biden delivered his remarks in Warsaw (Poland) during a speech before the Royal Castle. The landmark is there because it was significantly damaged during World War II.

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Biden Calls For Regime Change In Russia

Biden’s speech in Poland appears to have been an attempt at a legacy-defining moment, heavy with references to Pope John Paul, WWII, and reminders about the Soviet Union.

Biden assured Russian citizens that they are not “our enemy” as he compared Russia’s invasion to World War II atrocities.  

“These are not the actions of a great nation,” Biden said of Putin’s actions. 

“Of all people, you the Russian people, as well as all people across Europe still have the memory of being in a similar situation in the 30s and 40s, the situation of World War Two, still fresh in the mind of many grandparents in the region,” the president continued.

Biden looked back at the Russian World War II generation’s experiences in Russia.

“Whatever your generation experienced, whether it experienced the siege of Leningrad, or heard about it from your parents and grandparents, train stations overflowing with terrified families fleeing their homes, nights sheltering in basements and cellars, mornings sifting through the rubble in your home – these are not memories of the past – not any more, it’s exactly what the Russian army is doing in Ukraine right now,” Biden said.

Biden, just as he was finishing up his thoughtfully prepared speech, blurted out an appeal for regime change.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” the president said.

White House attempts to go back

The White House almost immediately tried to walk back what Biden had said, that Putin “cannot remain in power.

A White House official said that “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.”

Secretary of State Tony Blinken offered a similar explanation, saying, “I think the president, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else.”

USA Today wonders of Biden’s comments, “Was it a gaffe or an escalation? Biden prompts concern after saying Putin ‘cannot remain in power’”

Biden himself refuted his own remarks: 

Top American diplomats on Sunday had played down his declaration, and Biden, asked by a reporter as he departed a church service in Washington if he was calling for regime change in Russia, gave a one-word reply: “No.”

A number of people of note thought the walk back won’t be enough to convince Putin that the U.S. actually seeks to remove him from power.

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Council on Foreign Relations President, former Special Assistant of former President George H.W. Bush Richard Haass wrote on Twitter, “The White House walk back of [POTUS] regime change call is unlikely to wash. Putin will see it as confirmation of what he’s believed all along.”

“Bad lapse in discipline that runs risk of extending the scope and duration of the war,” Haas added.