President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” in a set of remarks made Saturday.
The president spoke in Warsaw, Poland to wrap up his multi-day trip to Europe. His comments mark one of the strongest statements made by the president and his administration so far regarding Putin being in power, though the White House sought to quickly clarify his comments afterwards.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power!” Biden, standing outside of the Royal Castle, emphatically declared at the end of his speech.
The administration walked back Biden’s comment moments after his speech concluded, with a White House official clarifying that Biden “was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia.”
Prior to Biden’s declaration, administration officials had been quick to note that their efforts in aiding Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion were not focused on Putin’s removal from office.
“For us, it’s not about regime change,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on CBS News earlier in March. “The Russian people have to decide who they want to lead them.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pushed back on Biden’s call afterwards, saying it is not up to him to decide, CNN reported.
“This is not to be decided by Mr. Biden. It should only be a choice of the people of the Russian Federation,” Peskov said.
Biden’s trip coincides with Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine, and the president met with NATO and G7 leaders as well as Ukrainian refugees while overseas. (RELATED: Biden Admin Will Welcome Up To 100,000 Refugees Fleeing Russian Aggression In Ukraine)
Shortly before he gave remarks in Poland, reports rang out of an airstrike near Lviv, Ukraine, a city located near the Polish border.
Biden warned Russia against attacking NATO territory during his remarks as well, telling Putin to not “even think about moving on one single inch.”
“We have a sacred obligation under Article 5 of defending each and every inch of NATO territory with the full force of our collective power,” Biden said, according to the Washington Times. (RELATED: Biden Says US, NATO ‘Would Respond’ If Russia Uses Chemical Weapons In Ukraine)
The president touted efforts made by the U.S. and allies to impose costs on Russia due to its invasion. He highlighted the fall of the Russian ruble and even issued a direct message to the Russian people, noting that they “are not our enemy.”
“Putin can and must end this war,” Biden said, according to The Hill, following his declaration that it has “already been a strategic failure for Russia.”