When President Joe Biden asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to clarify his remarks “cannot stay in power” on Monday, he seemed to want both ways when he created a barrage of questions.
He spoke in support of the US Alliance, but said that maintaining some independence was not the answer.
In a rare move for the White House, Biden – who made apparently unwritten remarks in Poland on Saturday – questioned reporters at an event to unveil his latest budget proposal on Monday afternoon, which includes $ 6.9 billion to help Ukraine fight Russian aggression.
The first question to Biden was: “Do you believe what you said that Putin can’t stay in power, or do you regret saying it now? Because your government is trying to walk behind that, have your words complicated matters?”
“Number one, I’m not backing down at all. The truth of the matter is that I’m expressing the way Putin is behaving and the moral resentment I feel for this man’s work – atrocities, half the children in Ukraine. – But I want to make it clear, I was not then and now I am not talking about a change of policy.
Biden said he did not think the remarks complicate diplomacy at the moment.
“In fact, we are in a situation where Putin’s continued assassination is complicating matters at the moment. What are people doing?” That’s the decent thing to do, and it should end there. “
“I was outraged. He shouldn’t be in power. Just like you know, bad people shouldn’t continue to do bad things. But that doesn’t mean we have a basic principle to do anything to bring down Putin. Either way.” Biden said.
If Mary Bruce, a senior White House correspondent for ABC News, is confident that Putin doesn’t see her as growing, Biden said, “I don’t care what he thinks.”
“In terms of his behavior, people should understand that he is going to do what he wants to do, period. Unfortunately, he was not influenced by anyone else, including his own advisers. Going to do it because I called her what she was and what she’s doing, I don’t think it’s reasonable, “Biden said.
He told Bruce that another meeting with Putin “depends on what he wants to talk about.”
Asked why he had cut off his four-day alliance-building tour, which was not in his prepared remarks, Biden said he was “speaking directly to the Russian people.”
Under further pressure, Biden reiterated that he was “expressing the moral resentment I felt towards this man” and “not expressing a change of policy.”
“The last part of the speech was to talk to the Russian people, to tell them what we thought. I was communicating not only to the Russian people, but to the whole world. That is – it is a general fact that this kind of behavior is totally unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. The way to deal with that is to strengthen and establish – to keep NATO fully united and to help Ukraine wherever we can. “
Biden told reporters Sunday evening that he was not calling for Putin’s removal from office, after the White House and some Democrats explained that the president was not supporting a change of government in Russia as a matter of policy.
A White House official said after the speech that “the president’s statement was that Putin should not be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He is not discussing Putin’s power or regime change in Russia.”
“I think the president, the White House, made it clear last night that, simply, President Putin should not be given the power to engage in war or aggression against Ukraine or anyone else,” said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Sunday. “As you have repeatedly told us, we have no strategy to change the regime in Russia or anywhere else. In this case, in any case, it depends on the people of the country in question. Up to the Russian people.”
Putin’s allies, meanwhile, have been seen taking the remarks as an exaggeration, and the results could weaken diplomatic efforts to end the war.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “It is not up to Biden to decide. The president of Russia is elected by the Russians.”
Biden also called Putin a “butcher” over the weekend, urging some world leaders to distance themselves from his remarks, and France’s Emmanuel Macron said “I will not use such words.”
The dust-up comes as recent polls show growing frustration with Ukraine’s biden’s handling of the issue, although most Americans are in favor of the president taking certain steps. According to recent ABC News / Ipsos data, 70% of Americans refuse to handle the price of biden gas, for example, although more respondents – 77% – support his proposal to ban Russian oil, even if it means paying more. . Pump
As the Ukraine war worsens, Biden has stepped up his rhetoric in recent weeks. At least twice last month, he called the Russian president a “war criminal” and said he believed Putin would “meet the legal definition.” The State Department announced last week that Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine, but did not specifically name Putin.