- The Kremlin has responded to a comment by President Joe Biden that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”
- A Kremlin spokesperson said that such a decision is for the Russian people to decide, not Biden.
- Biden’s remark on Sunday prompted concerns of a verbal escalation amid an already tense diplomatic situation.
The Kremlin has hit back at President Joe Biden’s remark on Sunday that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power,” saying that such a decision lies with the Russian people.
“It’s not up to the president of the US and not up to the Americans to decide who will remain in power in Russia,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, The Associated Press reported.
“This speech, and the passages which concern Russia, is astounding, to use polite words. He doesn’t understand that the world is not limited to the United States and most of Europe,” Peskov also said, reported Reuters, citing Russian broadcaster RBC.
Biden had been speaking to a crowd in Warsaw, Poland, when he said: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
The White House has since attempted to downplay Biden’s choice of words, saying he was referring to Putin’s power outside of Russia and was not calling for his removal.
“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,” a spokesperson for the White House said, per CNN.
Meanwhile, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s space program, appeared to mock Biden on Twitter over the White House’s clarification. “Biden did not call for a regime change — the White House medical unit,” he wrote.
Biden’s rhetoric against Putin has intensified over the last few weeks, with the president calling his Russian counterpart a “butcher” on Saturday and a “war criminal” last week, prompting Moscow to condemn his remarks for putting US-Russia relations “on the verge of rupture.”
French President Emmanuel Macron warned on Sunday that such verbal escalation could hinder the establishment of a ceasefire agreement in Ukraine and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukraine.
“If we want to do that, we can’t escalate either in words or actions,” he said, per Agence France-Presse.
GOP Senator Jim Risch, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called Biden’s comment on Sunday a “horrendous gaffe,” saying it could further worsen already tense diplomatic ties between Moscow and Washington over the war in Ukraine.