LONDON (Reuters) – Following are reactions to U.S. President Joe Biden’s remark on Saturday that Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden told a crowd in Warsaw after condemning the Russian president’s month-long war in Ukraine. Biden cast Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a battle in a much broader conflict between democracy and autocracy.
“The battle for democracy could not conclude and did not conclude with the end of the Cold War,” Biden said. “Over the last 30 years, the forces of autocracy have revived all across the globe.”
Official transcript https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/03/26/remarks-by-president-biden-on-the-united-efforts-of-the-free-world-to-support-the-people-of-ukraine of his speech.
“That’s not for Biden to decide,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters. “The president of Russia is elected by Russians.”
Peskov later told Russia’s RBC that Biden was clearly “the victim of many misconceptions”.
“This speech – and the passages which concern Russia – is astounding, to use polite words,” Peskov said. “He doesn’t understand that the world is not limited to the United States and most of Europe.”
U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN
“I think the president, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else,” Blinken said on Sunday during a visit to Jerusalem.
“As you know, and as you have heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia – or anywhere else, for that matter.”
WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:
“The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region,” the official said on Saturday after Biden’s speech. “He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”
JULIANNE SMITH, U.S. ENVOY TO NATO
“The president had spent the day visiting with the Ukrainian refugees. He went to the national stadium in Warsaw and literally met with hundreds of Ukrainians. He heard their heroic stories as they were fleeing Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine. In the moment, I think that was a principled human reaction to the stories that he had heard that day,” Smith told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, before adding: “But no … the U.S. does not have a policy of regime change in Russia. Full stop.”
FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON
“I wouldn’t use this type of wording because I continue to hold discussions with President Putin,” Macron told France 3 TV channel in remarks aired on Sunday.
The French president said he was seeking to hold more talks with Putin regarding the situation in Ukraine as well as an initiative to help people leave the besieged city of Mariupol in the coming days.
“We want to stop the war that Russia has launched in Ukraine without escalation — that’s the objective,” he added, noting the objective is to obtain a ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops through diplomatic means.
“If this is what we want to do, we should not escalate things — neither with words or actions,” he said.
OKSANA MARKAROVA, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES
“We heard President Biden loud and clear, that the U.S. will aid and will be with Ukraine in this fight,” Markarova told NBC News’ ‘Meet the Press’ on Sunday.
“We clearly understand in Ukraine that anyone who’s a war criminal, who attacks a neighboring country, who’s doing all these atrocities together with all the Russians that are involved definitely cannot stay in power in a civilized world. Now, it’s all up to all of us to stop Putin.”
“This is how a weak and sick person behaves – psychiatrists will be able to explain his behaviour better,” Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said on Saturday. “American citizens should be ashamed of their president.”
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Phil Stewart and Michelle Price; Editing by Frances Kerry and Diane Craft)