The United States does not have a regime change strategy for Russia, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said after US President Joe Biden previously said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot stay in power” amid the invasion of Ukraine.
Blinken’s comments come after French and British officials distanced themselves from Biden’s remarks on Sunday.
“I think the president, the White House last night stressed that President Putin cannot be authorized to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else,” Blinken told a news conference during a visit to Jerusalem.
In a keynote address during his trip to Poland, Biden said the Russian leader “cannot stay in power”, remarks by a White House official, which were later intended to prepare world democracies for a protracted conflict over Ukraine rather than support regime change in Russia.
Biden’s comments, including a statement earlier that day calling Putin a “butcher,” were a sharp escalation of the US approach to Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
In a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Biden recalled four decades of Poland behind the Iron Curtain, seeking to build an argument that world democracies must urgently confront autocratic Russia as a threat to global security and freedom.
A White House spokesman said Biden’s remark that Putin could not stay in power was not a shift in the position of the United States, which avoided direct military involvement in Ukraine and said it did not support regime change.
“But we have a strategy of strong support for Ukraine,” Blinken said.
“We have a strategy to put unprecedented pressure on Russia, and we continue to do so. And we have a strategy to make sure we provide all the humanitarian support we can, and we have a strategy to strengthen NATO,” he added.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has spoken to the Russian president several times as part of a failed peacekeeping effort so far, had to speak to Putin again on Sunday or Monday.
“We have to be factual and … do everything we can to keep the situation out of control,” Macron said on Sunday on France-3, answering a question about Biden’s remark.
“I would not use these terms because I continue to talk to President Putin, because we want to do collectively what we want to end the war that Russia has waged in Ukraine, without waging war and without escalation,” Macron said.
He stressed that the United States remains an important ally, saying: “We share many common values, but Europeans live next to Russia.”
UK Education Minister Nadhim Zahavi said on Sunday that “Russians should decide how they are governed”, but said they “certainly will be fine” if there is someone who is “democratic and understands their wishes”.
“It depends on the Russian people, and only the Russian people can make that decision, I suspect most of them are pretty tired of Putin and his friends and the illegal war,” he told the BBC.
But he declined to criticize Biden, unlike Conservative MP Tobias Elwood, who heads the campaign’s Defense Committee, who said Putin now “twists it, digs in and fights harder.”
Asked if Biden was wrong to make the call, Zahavi told Sky News: “No, I’m telling you that the White House has spoken very clearly on this issue, the president has made a very strong speech in this regard, and I think both the United States and the United Kingdom agree that the Russian people must decide who should govern them. “
The education minister backed British Foreign Secretary Liz Trass in a statement that sanctions from oligarchs, banks and businesses could be lifted if Putin ends the war and engages in “no further aggression”.
President Vladimir Zelensky has called on the United States and its allies to provide Ukraine with tanks, planes and missiles to help repel Russian forces, which the Kyiv government says are increasingly targeting fuel and food depots.
with reports by PA and AP