Biden message to Ukraine, NATO allies: Putin ‘cannot remain in power’

WARSAW, Poland — President Joe Biden, speaking to a crowd outside Warsaw’s Royal Castle, sent a strong message to U.S. allies, Ukrainians and the Russian people on Saturday, denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin and saying he “cannot remain in power.”

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Biden’s fiery speech took the unprecedented step of seemingly calling for Putin’s ouster.

“For God’s sake, this man (Putin) cannot remain in power,” said Biden, who earlier Saturday referred to Putin as “a butcher” while he visited Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw.“

A White House official later said that Biden’s point was that Putin “cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region.”

“He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia or regime change,” the official said.

Biden also told Ukrainian people and NATO allies that “we stand with you. Period.” The President spoke as a fuel depot in Ukrainian’s western city of Lviv was in flames after Russian missiles hit the facility on Saturday. The President was briefed about the attack before he delivered his speech, CNN reported.

“We have a sacred obligation to defend each and every inch of NATO territory,” Biden said, adding that Russia’s actions in Ukraine threaten to bring “decades of war.” “Don’t even think about moving onto one single inch of NATO territory.”

Biden also noted that Putin is to blame for the conflict in eastern Europe, calling it “a strategic failure.”

“Swift and punishing costs is the only thing that will get Russia to change course,” Biden said, referring to economic sanctions. “You the Russian people are not our enemy.

Biden added that western allies must “steel ourselves” for a “long fight ahead” in Russia’s war with Ukraine.

“In this battle, we need to be clear-eyed,” Biden said. “This battle will not be won in days, or months either. We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead.”

The President spoke about the economic sanctions that have been levied against Russia, saying that “swift and punishing” costs are the only solutions that will get Putin to change his course.

Biden said that the Russian government “has strangled democracy.”

“Putin has the gall to say he’s de-Nazifying Ukraine. It’s a lie, it’s just cynical -- he knows that,” Biden said. “And it’s also obscene.”

Biden began his speech by referencing the words of Pope John Paul II, the first pontiff elected from Poland.

“Be not afraid,” Biden said, quoting the words of Karol Wojtyła, who was elected pope in 1978 and was the first non-Italian pope since Adrian VI in the 16th century.

The President also spoke about Polish labor leader and president Lech Walesa and Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state who fled Czechoslovakia from the Nazis in 1939 and again from Communists a decade later.

Biden ended his speech with another reference to John Paul II, saying “Never, ever give up hope.”

“Never doubt, never tire, never become discouraged,” Biden said. “Be not afraid.”

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