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Joe Biden delivers remarks next to Antony Blinken. 16 March 2022. Alamy Stock Photo
Vladimir Putin

Blinken stresses US does not seek Moscow 'regime change' after Biden's 'unscripted' comment

The US President’s apparently unscripted call caused the White House to scramble to row back on the remark.

US SECRETARY OF State Antony Blinken has said that President Vladimir Putin’s position is “up to the Russians”, playing down US President Joe Biden’s comments that suggested a desire for regime change in Moscow.

Seeking to play down the comments while in Jerusalem, Blinken said that Biden’s point was that “Putin cannot be empowered to wage war, or engage in aggression against Ukraine, or anyone else”.

Speaking in Warsaw yesterday, Biden sparked controversy when he called the Russian leader a “butcher” and added in what is reported to be an ‘unscripted ‘ comment: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

That raised questions of whether the United States was advocating non-democratic “regime change” in Russia.

“As you’ve heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia or anywhere else for that matter,” said Blinken.

As in any case, it’s up to the people of the country in question. It’s up to the Russians.

UK: ‘That’s up to the Russian people’

The UK Government appeared to take a similar strategy – distancing itself from Biden’s comments.

When interviewed earlier today, British Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said it is “for the Russian people to decide how they are governed” but suggested they “would certainly do well” to have someone who “is democratic and understands their wishes”.

“That’s up to the Russian people and it is only the Russian people that can make that decision, I suspect most of them are pretty fed up with Putin and his cronies and the illegal war,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Morning show.

But he didn’t criticise Biden, unlike Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons Defence Committee. 

He said that Vladimir Putin will now “spin this, dig in and fight harder”.

Richard Haass, a veteran US diplomat who is president of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank, said Biden’s remarks made “a dangerous situation more dangerous” when the strategy should be focused on de-escalation.

© AFP 2022With reporting from the Press Association.

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