Joe Biden condemned Vladimir Putin as a “butcher” who could no longer stay in power in a historic speech in Poland on Saturday.
In what seemed to be a dramatic shift in US policy to back regime change in Moscow, Biden also appeared to urge those around the Russian president to oust him from the Kremlin. “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said in his most belligerent speech since the war began a month ago.
This was quickly followed by the White House saying Biden wasn’t calling for regime change but was instead making a point about Putin not being allowed to exercise power over his neighbors.
Biden: Putin is “bent on violence”
Biden said Putin was “bent on violence”. Addressing the Russian president directly, Biden said: “Don’t even think about moving on to one single inch of Nato territory.”
“There is simply no justification or provocation for Russia’s choice of war,” Biden told the audience in the Polish presidential palace.
“It’s an example of one of the oldest human impulses, using brute force and disinformation to satisfy a craving for absolute power and control. It’s nothing less than a direct challenge to the rule-based international order established since the end of world war two.”
Russia raises the specter of nuclear weapons
Earlier in the day, the Kremlin had raised the specter of the use of nuclear weapons in the war with Ukraine as Russian forces struggled to hold a key city in the south of the country.
Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president who is deputy chairman of the country’s security council, said Moscow could strike against an enemy that only used conventional weapons while Vladimir Putin’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu claimed nuclear “readiness” was a priority.
The comments prompted Zelensky, appearing by video link at Qatar’s Doha Forum, to warn that Moscow was a direct threat to the world. “Russia is deliberating bragging they can destroy with nuclear weapons, not only a certain country but the entire planet,” he said.
Zelensky will also address the Greek parliament via teleconference next week, it was reported on Saturday.
According to government sources, Ukrainian Ambassador to Greece Sergii Shutenko will be received by President of the Hellenic Parliament Constantine Tassoulas on Monday to finalize the details, but it is expected that Zelensky’s address will take place either on Wednesday or Thursday.