Biden says US won’t try to oust Vladimir Putin months after saying he had to go

Biden says US won't try to oust Vladimir Putin months after saying he had to go

An op-ed attributed to President Biden has promised the US won’t try to remove Russian President Vladimir Putin from power over his invasion of Ukraine — two months after Biden dramatically declared that Putin “cannot remain in power.”

“As much as I disagree with Mr. Putin, and find his actions an outrage, the United States will not try to bring about his ouster in Moscow,” said the editorial, which was published late Tuesday by the New York Times.

It was unclear from the piece whether the US would encourage Russians to topple Putin themselves as US-led sanctions force the country into steep economic decline.

Washington rarely intervenes militarily to topple foreign leaders — with notable exceptions such as Iraq in 2003. More often, the US government funds dissident political groups and gives arms, money and rhetorical support to antigovernmental forces.

Biden initially called for Putin’s ouster during a speech in Warsaw on March 26 — and was reportedly outraged when his aides rushed to disavow the remark.

Joe Biden
Biden was reportedly “furious” that his staff undermined his initial remark about Putin in March without checking with him first.
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said after visiting the Polish-Ukrainian border to witness the exodus of millions of Ukrainian refugees one month into the Russian invasion.

Almost immediately, his press team issued an anonymous statement saying: “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.”

Ukraine mass grave
Putin’s invasion into Russia has caused massive losses of life.

It’s unclear who drafted or approved that statement for release, but the next day, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain retweeted a message from CNN White House correspondent John Harwood that said Biden’s remark showed a “significant lapse in discipline,” while Biden told reporters upon leaving church that same day that “no” he wasn’t calling for regime change in Russia.

But Biden reclaimed his original stance one day later while taking unscripted reporter questions at the White House.

“I’m not walking anything back,” Biden said March 28. “I guess it was expressing my outrage. He shouldn’t remain in power … Just like, you know, bad people shouldn’t continue to do bad things. But it doesn’t mean we’ll have a fundamental policy to do anything to take Putin down in any way.”

According to a Tuesday report from NBC News, Biden was “furious” that his staff undermined his public remark without checking with him first — even reminding them that “he’s the one who is president.”

In the same piece, Biden confirmed plans to send powerful missiles to Ukraine’s military as part of a new $700 million package to help defend eastern regions of the country, where Putin refocused his attack after failing to quickly capture capital city Kyiv.

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