President BidenJoe Biden Pelosi: ‘I fear for our democracy’ if Republicans win Jan. 6 House committee votes to push Navarro contempt action, Scavino Biden’s ‘careless’ comment on Putin angers GOP further Perhaps the Russian President has handed over Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich Putin, House watchdog launches investigation into Credit Suisse ties with Russian oligarchs ‘Biden’s careless remark’ about Putin angers Republicans Leon Panetta: ‘We all share moral anger about Putin’ More Gift – and now trying to get it back.
Biden appeared to play Putin’s favour, with his unwritten assertion during a major speech in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday that the Russian president “cannot stay in power.”
The words sounded to many people like a call for regime change in Moscow. As such, they chimed well with Putin’s repeated claims that he and his nation are targets of Western conspiracy and aggression.
The comment might at least raise suspicion among the Russian people that the West has a more expansionist agenda than simply rejecting the invasion of Ukraine. At worst, statements could foreshadow their willingness to side with Putin amid severe sanctions and international contempt.
Biden’s initial remark led to a two-day brawl.
The White House now sees the controversy overshadowing other internal issues, such as the release of the president’s budget on Monday.
The task of cleaning up the mess falls to Biden himself.
“I was expressing the moral outrage I felt… [at] Biden told reporters in the White House dining room on Monday. “Neither then, nor am I now, was I to disclose a change in policy.”
Shortly thereafter, an angry Biden told Fox News’ Peter Dossey, “Nobody thought I was talking about bringing down Putin. Nobody believed it.”
These comments came after the Minister of Foreign Affairs Anthony BlinkenAnthony Blinkin Leon Panetta: ‘We all share moral outrage over Putin’s balance/sustainability – Starlink Musk now aiding Ukraine military strikes, Kremlin calls Biden Putin’s statement ‘disturbing’ MoreHis assertion over the weekend that “we have no strategy for regime change in Russia, or anywhere else for that matter.”
The US ambassador to NATO, Julian Smith, also joined the clean-up effort on Sunday, telling CNN’s State of the Union that Biden had given voice to a “principled humanitarian response” after meeting Ukrainian refugees in Poland.
Long before that, an unnamed White House official claimed shortly after Biden’s speech in Warsaw concluded that “the president’s view was that Putin could not be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s authority in Russia, or System change”.
There were first signs that the White House might start turning the page on Monday.
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, told this column via email that he thought the comments were “a good way to get creative and, more importantly, bypass the problem.”
“By making clear Saturday’s remarks did not constitute a change in policy, today’s suspension provides the president and the administration the flexibility and space to conduct any foreign policy toward Russia, diplomacy with it, it is required to deal with Ukraine or any other matters,” Haas added.
Haas was previously among the foreign policy experts most critical of Biden’s initial comment in the Warsaw speech, warning in a tweet that “Putin will see this as confirmation of what he has believed all along. A poor fall in discipline that could lead to an extension of the scope and duration of the war.”
But if Monday’s Biden clean-up has calmed figures like Haas, Republican elected officials will likely be less generous.
On Sunday, Senator. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones Portman Hill Morning Report – Biden: ‘No’ Russian Regime Politics Change Biden Putin Remarks, White House Retreat Faces GOP Senator Says Biden’s Speech Was ‘Powerful’ Despite Ultimate Glip More (R-Ohio) told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Biden’s comment was a “mistake” that “works in the interests of Russian preachers and in the interests of Vladimir Putin.”
On the same day, Senator. Jim RichJames Elroy Risch Shows Preview: US and Allies Tighten Pressure on Russia; Jackson undergoes confirmation hearings Five things to watch during Biden’s trip to Europe Lawmakers skeptical of Biden’s efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal More (R-Idaho) admitted to CNN that Biden’s public address in Warsaw was a “good speech” but added, “There was a horrible mistake at the end of it. I just wish it stayed in his script.”
On Monday, after Biden’s latest comments, a Republican National Committee spokesperson emailed reporters to blow up the White House event, calling it an “insult to the American people.” The spokesperson, Tommy Piggott, complained of Biden that “instead of taking responsibility, he chose to deny the truth.”
Of course, there are many Americans who would welcome Biden’s comments, given Putin’s long record of aggressive behavior and the terrible suffering inflicted on the people of Ukraine since the start of the Moscow invasion on February 24.
There is an argument to be made for moral clarity – and the idea that Biden’s comment was merely a statement of the obvious. Everyone knows that Biden and other Western leaders would prefer a less authoritarian and aggressive figure in the Kremlin than Putin.
“He shouldn’t stay in power just as you know, bad guys shouldn’t keep doing bad things. But that doesn’t mean we have a basic policy to do anything to bring down Putin in any way.” This is just an illustration of the simple fact that this kind of behavior Totally unacceptable.”
However, Biden knows, like everyone else, that Ukraine is unlikely to achieve a clear military victory in its struggle against Russia.
This means that the only successful conclusion of the conflict must involve negotiations – a process in which Putin is perhaps the single most important player.
In this context, it’s hard to argue that Biden’s comments in Warsaw were a slip – and one that Moscow immediately did its best to exploit.
A Kremlin spokesman said over the weekend that the Russian leadership was “not for Biden to decide.” “The President of Russia is elected by the Russians.”
The memo column was reported by Niall Stanag.
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