Biden says his comments on Russia not implying policy change

President Joe Biden restated Monday that he was not declaring a change in US policy when he said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” — a statement that caught American and international officials off-guard, sending the White House into clean-up mode over the weekend.

“I just was expressing my outrage. He shouldn’t remain in power, just like, you know, bad people shouldn’t continue to do bad things,” Biden said in response to a question from CNN’s Kaitlan Collins at the White House.

“But it doesn’t mean we have a fundamental policy to do anything to take Putin down in any way.” he added.

Two days following Biden’s return from Europe, the improvised comment made at the end of an address in Warsaw about Putin — “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power” — has hovered over the White House.

The White House and Biden have repeatedly tried to downplay the remark. The administration and allies say Biden wasn’t calling for regime change to remove Putin from power. Rather, they argue that Biden was saying Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over neighboring nations.

“I was talking to the Russian people,” Biden said on Monday at the White House when asked by Collins why he ad-libbed the line.

“The last part of the speech was talking to Russian people,” he said. “I was communicating this to, not only the Russian people but the whole world. This is … just stating a simple fact that this kind of behavior is totally unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. And the way to deal with it is to strengthen and keep NATO completely united and help Ukraine where we can”

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