‘People like this shouldn’t be ruling countries. But they do…’
The president also stated that he is not calling for a change of regime in Moscow.
“I was expressing the moral outrage that I felt toward this man,” Biden said. “I wasn’t articulating a policy change.”
The president’s unexpected comment about Putin, made at the close of a Saturday speech in Warsaw aimed at rallying democracies for a protracted global fight against autocracy, sparked outrage in the United States and alarmed some Western European allies.
On Monday, Biden dismissed the notion that his remark may inflame tensions over the Ukraine conflict or feed Russian propaganda about Western aggression.
“Nobody believes … I was talking about taking down Putin,” Biden said, adding that “the last thing I want to do is engage in a land war or a nuclear war with Russia.”
He said he was expressing an “aspiration” rather than a goal of American foreign policy.
“People like this shouldn’t be ruling countries. But they do,” he said. “The fact they do doesn’t mean I can’t express my outrage about it.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had said earlier Monday in response to Biden’s weekend remark by saying earlier Monday that “we need de-escalation. We need military de-escalation and rhetoric de-escalation.”
French President Emanuel Macron on Sunday had said he “wouldn’t use those terms, because I continue to speak to President Putin, because what do we want to do collectively? We want to stop the war that Russia launched in Ukraine, without waging war and without escalation.”
During a tour to the Middle East, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was compelled to continue clarifying Biden’s remarks, despite the fact that he had wanted to focus on strengthening American partnerships as the administration seeks a renewed nuclear deal with Iran.
As per Nypost, Blinken claimed Biden meant that “Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else” at a press conference in Jerusalem.
Republicans questioned why Biden deviated from the script when dealing with a volatile conflict, despite the White House insisting after the speech that he was not calling for regime change.
Some questioned Biden’s inflammatory rhetoric in light of his typically cautious attitude, such as his refusal to help Ukraine’s military acquire Polish fighter jets.
“If we’re so worried about provoking him that we couldn’t even send MiGs into Ukraine, how is this any different?” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “In fact, I would say it’s more provocative than sending MiGs into Ukraine.”
The United States has been pushing weapons into Ukraine, including anti-tank missiles, and is considering providing anti-ship missiles to make it more difficult for Russia to launch an amphibious assault along the Black Sea coast.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine continues to be frustrated by the slow pace of military support, accusing Western leaders of cowardice and repeating his request for tanks and fighter jets.