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President Joe Biden on Monday tried to clarify his comments about not allowing President Vladimir Putin to stay in power, insisting he was expressing his outrage at the Russian leader’s brutality in Ukraine rather that unveiling a new U.S. policy. 

The U.S. president alarmed allies and partners on Saturday when he said at the end of a speech in Warsaw: ‘For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.’ 

The White House quickly tried to walk back the comments, saying the president meant Putin could not continue to wield power over neighbors.

And other Western leaders said they feared that any hint of regime change might make it harder for Putin to dial back his deadly war in Ukraine.

Biden was asked about the comments after he unveiled his 2023 budget at the White House on Monday afternoon.

‘Number one, I’m not walking anything back,’ he said. 

‘The fact of the matter is, I was expressing the moral outrage I felt toward the way Putin is dealing … and the actions of this man, which is just brutality.’

President Joe Biden refused to walk back his Saturday comments about not allowing President Vladimir Putin of Russia to stay in power, but faced a barrage of questions from reporters

President Joe Biden refused to walk back his Saturday comments about not allowing President Vladimir Putin of Russia to stay in power, but faced a barrage of questions from reporters

President Joe Biden refused to walk back his Saturday comments about not allowing President Vladimir Putin of Russia to stay in power, but faced a barrage of questions from reporters

 

Biden's comments were seized on by the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin's allies. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: 'This is a statement that is certainly alarming'

Biden's comments were seized on by the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin's allies. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: 'This is a statement that is certainly alarming'

Biden’s comments were seized on by the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin’s allies. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: ‘This is a statement that is certainly alarming’

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a warehouse hit by Russian shelling on March 28, 2022 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. More than half Kharkiv's 1.4 million people have fled the city

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a warehouse hit by Russian shelling on March 28, 2022 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. More than half Kharkiv's 1.4 million people have fled the city

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a warehouse hit by Russian shelling on March 28, 2022 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. More than half Kharkiv’s 1.4 million people have fled the city

Biden, 79, said he was not concerned that his comments would escalate tensions over the war in Ukraine.

‘This is just stating a simple fact, that this kind of behavior is totally unacceptable,’ he said.

But he faced a barrage of questions from reporters attempting to clarify his position and whether he had blundered.

He was asked whether he had misspoken repeatedly by at one stage sounding as if he was telling U.S. troops they were about to go to Ukraine, as if he was suggesting the U.S. might use chemical weapons, and as if he was calling for regime change.

‘None of the three occurred,’ he said.

The White House had already tried clean-up. It said the crucial nine words were not part of his scripted speech. 

‘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. 

But his comments have provided ammunition for the Kremlin as it continues its war in Ukraine. 

Biden delivered his controversial remarks right at the end of his three-day trip to Europe, at the end of a speech in the Polish capital Warsaw

Biden delivered his controversial remarks right at the end of his three-day trip to Europe, at the end of a speech in the Polish capital Warsaw

Biden delivered his controversial remarks right at the end of his three-day trip to Europe, at the end of a speech in the Polish capital Warsaw 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: ‘This is a statement that is certainly alarming.’

He added that Russian officials would ‘continue to track the statements of the U.S. president in the most attentive way,’ Peskov added.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the use of such inflammatory language would not help an already volatile situation. 

He said he would not have used Biden’s words and that the focus had to be on finding a ceasefire and securing the withdrawal of Russian forces by diplomatic means. 

‘If we want to do that, we can’t escalate in either words or actions,’ he told broadcaster France 3. 

And United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres suggested that Biden’s comments were unhelpful.

‘I think we need de-escalation: We need military de-escalation and rhetoric de-escalation,’ he said when asked about Biden’s remarks.

Source: Daily Mail

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