United States President Joe Biden on Saturday described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “butcher who could no longer remain in power”, The Guardian reported.
He made the remarks during a visit to Poland, over a month after Russia began its attack on Ukraine.
The United Nations human rights office has stated that the conflict had killed at least 1,035 people. Of these, 90 were children.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said in the Polish capital Warsaw.
However, the White House later clarified that Biden was not calling for a “regime change” in Russia, AFP reported.
“The president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region,” an unidentified official from the United States said. “He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov castigated Biden for his remarks, reported the Associated Press. He said that it was not for the United States president to decide who should remain in power in Russia.
Biden, during his speech, also warned Putin against invading any part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s territory.
On March 1, Biden had said that the United States would not engage in a conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine. He added, however, that the country and its allies would defend “every inch of the territory of NATO countries”.
On February 2, the United States ordered nearly 3,000 additional troops to be sent to Europe amid early indications of a potential conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Reports at the time had said that the deployment of more than 4,000 troops in Europe was expected to be extended for several weeks.
‘Long fight ahead’, says Biden
In Warsaw, Biden praised “the brave Ukrainian resistance”, and said that it was a part of the fight for the democratic principles “that unite all free people”.
“I have come to Europe with a clear and determined message: We must commit now to be in this fight for democracy for the long haul,” Biden said. “We must be unified today and tomorrow.”
Biden said that the ongoing conflict in Ukraine was a “battle between liberty and repression”.
“This battle will not be won in days or months either,” he said. “We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead.”
The United States president claimed that on account of Western sanctions, the Russian economy was on track to be cut by half. He said that Russia’s economy was the 11th biggest in the world before the attack, and claimed that soon, it would not even rank among the top 20.
“As a result of our unprecedented sanctions, the ruble was almost immediately reduced to rubble,” he asserted.
Biden, however, said that his government does not consider the Russian people as its enemy. “The American people stand with you and the brave citizens in Ukraine who want peace,” he said.