President Joe Biden on Saturday said Russian leader Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power,” ratcheting up international pressure and further uniting NATO allies against Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.
“A dictator, bent on rebuilding an empire, will never erase the people’s love for liberty,” Biden said at the end of a sweeping speech in Poland. “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, for free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness.”
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said.
Biden has hurled invective at Putin throughout the crisis in Ukraine, labeling him a “murderous dictator” and a “war criminal,” but has previously stopped short of calling for his removal from power.
Later Saturday, a White House official attempted to clarify that Biden “was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change,” but rather was making the point that Putin “cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region.”
The president’s address at the Royal Castle in Warsaw marked the grand finale of a three-day trip to Europe. While in Poland, Biden met with Ukrainian refugees who had fled Russian aggression, as well as with U.S. troops stationed in Rzeszow, near Ukraine’s border.