Hours after President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot stay in power,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken made clear that the United States had no plan for regime change in Russia.
“I think the president, the White House, made it clear last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else,” Blinken said Sunday during a news conference in Jerusalem.
“You know, and as you’ve heard us say over and over again, we don’t have a strategy for regime change in Russia or anywhere else, for that matter,” he said.
Julian Smith, the US ambassador to NATO, also emphasized Sunday that the United States is not seeking regime change in Russia.
In a sweeping and powerful speech that concluded his four-day trip to Europe, Biden on Saturday described the war in Ukraine as part of an ongoing fight for freedom and ended with a vocal call to stop Putin.
“For God’s sake, this guy can’t stay in power,” Biden said during a visit to Warsaw, Poland, in his strongest comments yet about his desire for Putin to go.
Shortly after the speech, a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Biden was not calling for Putin to be removed from office.
“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 regime change,” the official said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded: “It is not up to the president of the United States or the Americans to decide who will remain in power in Russia.”
“Only the Russians, who vote for their president, can decide on this,” said Peskov.
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In remarks from Warsaw, Biden criticized Putin as a “butcher” for the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and said the West “has never been stronger.” Poland was on the front lines of the refugee crisis, accepting two million Ukrainians fleeing the war.
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The US High Representative to NATO clarified President Joe Biden’s comments by saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot stay in power,” saying the entire administration believes “we cannot enable Putin now to wage war in Ukraine or pursue these aggressive actions.”
Julianne Smith, the US ambassador to NATO, said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union program that the United States is not pursuing a policy of regime change.
Smith said Biden met with Ukrainian refugees before his speech on Saturday and his impressive handwriting was a “key human reaction to the stories he heard that day.”
“As you’ve heard from Secretary Blinken and others, the United States has no policy of regime change in Russia, a complete halt,” she said.
– Rebecca Morin
On Sunday, Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova called on Western allies to provide more military support to Ukraine, not in the form of troops but warplanes and anti-aircraft equipment so that the nation can win the war against Russia.
“We are not asking for American soldiers, but we need all the support … all the weapons including anti-aircraft, including aircraft, everything, to stop this brutal destruction,” she told NBC News’ Meet the Press. .
“We will not give up,” she said.
– Katie Waddington
French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday distanced himself from President Joe Biden’s comments in which he called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “butcher” and someone who “cannot stay in power,” adding that he was trying to avoid an escalation from Russia.
In an interview with French television station France 3, Macron said he would not use this type of language and indicated that his task was to achieve “a ceasefire and then the complete withdrawal of (Russian) forces by diplomatic means”. Macron and Putin continued their talks after Russia invaded Ukraine last month.
“If we want to do this, we cannot escalate with words or deeds,” Macron said, according to a translation from France 24.
– Rebecca Morin
Kyiv, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has once again urged the West to provide Ukraine with warplanes and air defense missiles.
“Our partners have it all, and they are only gathering dust. In fact, it is necessary not only for the freedom of Ukraine, but for the freedom of Europe,” Zelensky said, speaking in a video address early Sunday.
Zelensky warned that the Baltic states, Poland and Slovakia could eventually face a Russian attack “just because they kept in their hangars only 1% of all NATO warplanes and 1% of all NATO tanks. Only 1%! We are not asking for more and we have been waiting for that for long.” 31 days!”
“Our partners should increase their assistance to Ukraine,” he said.
The president said, “Ukraine cannot shoot down Russian missiles with rifles and machine guns, which were the bulk of the supplies. And we cannot cancel the Mariupol embargo without the necessary number of tanks, shields and other warplanes. All defenders of Ukraine know this.”
He said the United States and “all European politicians” knew this, too.
– News agency
Finland will stop train service to Russia on Monday, and will cut railways with European Union countries.
Since Moscow invaded Ukraine, Finnish train operator VR has operated a route between Helsinki, Finland and Saint Petersburg in Russia “to provide safe passage for Finnish citizens”.
“During these weeks, people who wanted to leave Russia had time to leave. Now, due to the sanctions, we will stop the service for the time being,” said Toby Simola, Senior Vice President of Passenger Services at VR Group, late last week.
– Katie Waddington
Lviv, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky angrily warned Moscow that it was sowing deep hatred of Russia among his people.
“You are doing everything so that our people themselves leave the Russian language, because the Russian language will now be associated with you alone, with your bombings and crimes, and your crimes,” Zelensky said in a touching video speech late Saturday.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine led to a war of attrition in many places, with civilian casualties mounting as Moscow sought to bomb cities into submission from their entrenched positions.
A nuclear research facility in the besieged city of Kharkiv, near the Russian border, came under fire again on Saturday, and Ukraine’s International Atomic Energy Agency said that due to the ongoing hostilities it was impossible to assess the extent of the damage.
– News agency
A Kremlin spokesman said on Saturday that President Joe Biden’s statement that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” was “extremely negative” for US relations with Russia.
“Only the Russians, who vote for their president, can decide on this,” Dmitry Peskov told the Associated Press. “Of course, it is not appropriate for the President of the United States to make such statements.”
The White House retracted Biden’s initial remarks in Poland, claiming that the president did not support regime change, but meant that “Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region.”
With Biden’s remarks, Peskov said, he was “narrowing the window of opportunity for our bilateral relations under the current administration.”
Lviv, Ukraine – Several missiles landed in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Saturday in what officials described as two separate attacks.
Powerful explosions terrified a city that was a haven for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the Russian attack on other parts of Ukraine.
The region’s governor, Maxim Kozytsky, said on Facebook that initial indications were that five people were wounded in the first attack, but he did not specify what caused the two rockets. Hours later, he reported three more explosions outside the city, again without details.
Lviv Mayor Andrei Sadovy described the second round of explosions as a missile attack, saying that they caused significant damage to an unspecified “infrastructure object”.
Lviv has largely survived since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, although missiles had hit an aircraft repair facility near the international airport a week earlier.
The back-to-back attacks on Saturday brought a chill to the population and displaced Ukrainians who saw Lviv as a relatively safe place to rebuild their lives. It was home to about 700,000 people before the invasion, and the city has accommodated a much larger number.
– News agency
Lviv, Ukraine – A man has been arrested on suspicion of spying at the site of one of the two rocket attacks that rocked the city on Saturday, the governor of the Lviv region said.
Maxim Kozytsky said the police found the man who had registered a missile flying towards the target and hitting it. Police also found his phone photos of checkpoints in the area, which Kozetsky said were sent to two Russian phone numbers.
The missiles hit an oil storage facility and an unidentified industrial facility, injuring at least five people. A thick plume of smoke and towering flames could be seen on the outskirts of Lviv hours after the attacks.
– News agency
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