President Joe Biden on Saturday said Russian leader Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power,” ratcheting up international pressure and further uniting NATO allies against Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.
“A dictator, bent on rebuilding an empire, will never erase the people’s love for liberty,” Biden said at the end of a sweeping speech in Poland. “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, for free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness.”
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said.
Biden has hurled invective at Putin throughout the crisis in Ukraine, labeling him a “murderous dictator” and a “war criminal,” but has previously stopped short of calling for his removal from power.
Later Saturday, a White House official attempted to clarify that Biden “was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change,” but rather was making the point that Putin “cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region.”
The president’s address at the Royal Castle in Warsaw marked the grand finale of a three-day trip to Europe. While in Poland, Biden met with Ukrainian refugees who had fled Russian aggression, as well as with U.S. troops stationed in Rzeszow, near Ukraine’s border.
In his speech, Biden urged democracies around the world to unify against Russia and commit to a historic battle against authoritarian aggression.
“In this battle, we need to be clear-eyed,” he said. “We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead.”
Biden directly and repeatedly condemned Putin throughout the speech, accusing the Russian president of “using brute force and disinformation to satisfy a craving for absolute power and control.”
Biden slammed Putin for invoking Nazi imagery as a pretext for an invasion, calling it an “obscene” lie. And he said it is “Putin who is to blame” for the mountain of international sanctions that are crushing Russia’s economy and its currency, noting that the Russian ruble has been reduced to “rubble.”
Biden also spoke past Putin, attempting to deliver an appeal to whichever Russian citizens may be able to hear the speech.
“This is not the future you deserve for your families and children,” Biden said. “I’m telling you the truth, this war is not worthy of you, the Russian people.”
Biden’s message to Ukraine was more direct: “We stand with you. Period.”
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