Joe Biden denies US is seeking regime change in Russia

US President Joe Biden has denied reports that the US is seeking to overthrow the regime of Vladimir Putin after ostensibly calling for the removal of his Russian counterpart, as European leaders stressed the importance of avoid escalation of geopolitical tensions.

In a speech in Warsaw on Saturday, Biden condemned Putin’s “atrocities” during the invasion of Ukraine, saying: “For God’s sake, this man unable to maintain power“.

Upon returning to Washington the next day, Biden was asked by a reporter if he was calling for regime change. The US President replied: “No.”

Previously, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speak that the US has “repeatedly” stated that “we have no strategy for regime change in Russia – or anywhere else”.

Speaking in Jerusalem on Sunday, Blinken said: “The president, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in provocations. aggression against Ukraine or anyone else.”

Blinken’s comments were the second US attempt to backtrack on what appeared to be a call to oust Putin from power. in a speech in which Biden warned transatlantic democracies to train themselves for a “long battle ahead” to defend freedom in Europe.

The White House later said that “the president’s position is that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over neighboring countries or the region,” not a plan for regime change.

European countries stress the importance of avoiding escalation of the geopolitical situation.

“[In the EU] Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, said when asked about Mr. Biden’s comments.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he would not repeat Biden’s words and needed to work to avoid the situation from getting worse, adding that he wanted to continue talking to Putin in an effort. ceasefire.

Macron told France 3 TV: “I think we need to be realistic and do everything to not allow the situation to spiral. “I will not make comments like that. . . We should not escalate by words or actions. “

The UK has said it is not pushing for regime change and believes Putin should be given a “shortcut” from the war. A senior British official said: “In principle, encouraging good behavior is not encouraging worse behavior by assuming there is nothing left to lose.”

Liz Truss, the UK’s foreign secretary, told the Sunday Telegraph that sanctions could be lifted if Putin pulled out of Ukraine and pledged “no further aggression”.

Ibrahim Kalin, a top aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said it was important to try to understand Moscow’s position. Ankara, having managed to maintain close ties with Moscow and Kyiv, has sought to act as a mediator. “If people burn the bridge to Russia then who is going to talk to them, at the end of the day?” he say.

“True leadership means supporting the Ukrainians with equipment so that they can cause great harm to the Russians,” said an official from a Nato member state.

Wolfgang Ischinger, a former top German diplomat and former head of the Munich Security Conference, warned that Mr. Biden’s speech risks increasing tensions with Moscow.

“The Russian interpretation would be that this affirms that the US priority is not to save Ukraine, but to destroy Russia,” he wrote on Twitter. “Emotionally, the Biden statement is understandable, but rather unwise, strategically.”

Biden’s remarks drew condemnation from Moscow. Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, told the state agency Tass that “these personal insults narrow the opportunities for our bilateral relations.” [to improve] below present [US] management”.

The Russian military is pursuing a threat to encircle Ukrainian forces in the east while stepping up attacks on fuel and food depots across the country as assessed by western armies.

The British Ministry of Defense said: “Russian forces appear to be concentrating their efforts on finding a way to encircle Ukrainian forces that are directly facing breakaway regions in the east of the country, advancing from the direction of Kharkiv in the country. north and Mariupol to the south”. on Sunday.

The governor of Sumy, an area on the northern border with Russia, said Ukrainian forces had recaptured two towns on the supply route to the region’s capital.

According to Reuters.

Also on Sunday, the leader of the Luhansk People’s Republic, one of two people backed by Moscow separatist groups in Donbassaid the group may soon hold a referendum on joining Russia – a possible premise for Moscow’s formal annexation of more Ukrainian territory.

Additional reporting by Andres Schipani in Lviv, Sarah White in Paris, Martin Arnold in Frankfurt, George Parker in London and Laura Pitel in Ankara

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