- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2022

President Biden on Monday refused to disavow his impassioned demand that Russian President Vladimir Putin step down from power, insisting that he was expressing a personal opinion and not U.S. policy.

“I’m not walking anything back,” Mr. Biden told reporters. “The fact of the matter is that I was expressing moral outrage. I wasn’t then nor am I now articulating any policy change. I was expressing the moral outrage that I felt then and I make no apologies for it.”

“This was just stating a simple fact that this kind of behavior is totally unacceptable. Totally unacceptable,” Mr. Biden said.

When asked if he was worried if Mr. Putin would view his comments as escalatory, Mr. Biden said he flat-out didn’t care.

“I don’t care what he thinks,” the president said. “He‘s going to do what he‘s going to do. He‘s not affected by anybody else, including, unfortunately, for me, his own advisers.”

He called “ridiculous” the criticism that his off-the-cuff talk was undermining efforts to end the Ukraine war or giving Mr. Putin material for his propaganda machine.

“Nobody believes we’re going to take down [Mr. Putin],” Mr. Biden said. “Nobody believes that.”

He then doubled down on his remarks that Mr. Putin should leave office, arguing that even presidents have a right to personal opinions.

Speaking in Warsaw on Saturday, Mr. Biden declared that Mr. Putin should not remain in power.

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

It drew a rebuke from U.S. allies in Europe and others for suggesting that the U.S. supported a policy of regime change in Moscow.

Moments after his speech, the White House immediately went to work cleaning up his remarks.

SEE ALSO: Ukraine intel chief: Putin seeks ‘Korean scenario’ to divide neighbor permanently

“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 White House official said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other U.S. officials on Sunday took to the TV talk show to further walk back Mr. Biden‘s remarks.

Mr. Blinken insisted the U.S. was not pursuing “a strategy of regime change in Moscow.”

U.S. allies, including French President Emmanuel Macron and senior British and Turkish officials, also distanced themselves from Mr. Biden‘s rhetoric. They expressed concern that the president’s comments marked an escalation in the war.

On Monday, Mr. Biden repeated the lines that sparked the controversy.

He shouldn’t be in power,” Mr. Biden said of his Russian counterpart. “People like this shouldn’t be ruling countries, but they do. The fact is that they do, but it doesn’t mean I can’t express my outrage about it.”

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide