US President Joe Biden declared forcefully Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power," but the White House said afterward that it was not a call for regime change.
"For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power," Biden announced at the very conclusion of a capstone address delivered at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
“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," a White House official said.
Biden's line that Putin "cannot remain in power" was not in his prepared remarks, a White House official said.
US officials had said previously said removing Putin from power was not their goal.
"For us, it's not about regime change. The Russian people have to decide who they want to lead them," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this month.
The Kremlin's response: “This is not to be decided by Mr. Biden," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "It should only be a choice of the people of the Russian Federation.”