Biden has called for Putin to be deposed. He made a direct appeal to the Russian people during a speech in Warsaw, where he had met for talks with high-ranking Ukrainian officials on Saturday (March 26).
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden declared at the end of an emotionally overwrought speech in the Polish capital’s Royal Castle. While he has previously denounced Putin as a “war criminal” and a “dictator,” and lobbed at him all manner of other geopolitical insults, this was his first recorded demand that the president be removed from office.
Following the remarks, a White House official attempted to walk back the major moment and said Biden’s comment was actually referring to Putin exercising power outside of Russia.
Much of Biden’s speech involved placing blame for the Russian invasion into Ukraine directly on Putin and delivering a plea to the Russian people that they not be welcoming or supportive of the war. The comment was a particularly notable moment, however, appearing to mark a shift in Biden’s thinking about Putin’s position in Russia.
It’s unclear if the White House meant that Biden muddled his words or went off-script with his comments. The White House did not immediately respond to request for comment to clarify the statement.