STORY: America’s top diplomat on Sunday stated unequivocally that the U.S. in no way sought to remove Russian President Vladimir Putin from power.
“We do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia or anywhere else for that matter.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the clarification after U.S. President Joe Biden said this about the Russian leader during a speech in Warsaw:
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
Those nine words, off-the-cuff and not part of the president’s prepared remarks, sparked a wave of scrutiny as to whether Biden inadvertently signaled a new American policy.
Blinken, during a visit to Israel, explained that Biden was referring to Putin’s power over neighboring nations – not his power within Russia.
“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.”
A White House official also clarified that Biden’s comments did not represent a shift in Washington’s position in the war.
“In this case, as in any case, it is up to the people of the country in question, it is up to the Russian people. But what we do have is a strategy to strongly support Ukraine. We've been doing that and rallying partners and allies around the world to do that."
But for Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelenskiy, those allies need to do more. And on Sunday, he called for more weapons and support.
"It is tanks for our state. It is missile defense. It is anti-ship weapons. That is what our partners have, that is what is just gathering dust there."
The United Nations human rights office says 1,119 civilians had so far been killed since Russia began what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.