Was it a gaffe or an escalation? Biden prompts concern after saying Putin ‘cannot remain in power’

After four days of alliance building, emotional interactions with refugees and words about the need to fight for democracy, one sentence at the end of President Joe Biden’s speech in Poland threatened to overshadow all of it as he deals with the most significant foreign policy crisis of his presidency.

“For God’s sake,” Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin, “this man cannot remain in power.”.

Biden’s aides quickly tried to walk it back, insisting the president was not promoting regime change when he spoke to a packed courtyard in the Royal Castle in Warsaw on Saturday.

“I think the president, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said hours later in Jerusalem.

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