WARSAW — President Biden has issued a forceful condemnation of Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, declaring that “for God’s sake, this man cannot stay in power” and put the case against him. The war is seen as the “test of all time” for democracy in a decades-long battle to defend it.
Administration officials have been careful not to suggest Putin will be removed, knowing the Kremlin would see it as a dangerous escalation. Shortly after Mr Biden’s speech, the White House insisted the president was not calling for regime change.
“The president’s view is that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbor or the region,” a White House official said in a statement to reporters. “He’s not discussing Putin’s power or regime change in Russia.”
Speaking from a castle that has been the residence of Polish monarchs for centuries, Biden drew a sharp line between the forces of freedom and oppression in the world. He described the confrontation with Putin as a moment he had long warned about: a clash of competing global ideologies.
“Russia’s choice of war is one of the oldest human impulses – to use brute force and disinformation to satisfy the thirst for absolute power and control,” he declared in front of hundreds. “In this battle, we need to be clear: This battle is not going to be won in days or months. We need to prepare for a long fight ahead.”
The president delivered an angry tirade against Mr Putin, claiming his invasion was aimed at “denazification” of Ukraine. Mr Biden called the claim a “lie” and pointed out that President Volodymyr Zelensky was Jewish and his father’s family was killed in the Holocaust.
“It’s just cynical. He knows it. It’s obscene, too,” Mr Biden said.
Mr Biden said the Ukraine war was nothing more than an extension of the Soviet Union’s long history of oppression, dating back to its military invasions of Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia in the 1950s and 1960s to end the democratic movement. Second World War.
Those countries won their freedom from the Soviet Union, he said, but said “the war for democracy did not end with the end of the Cold War.”
“Today, Russia is killing democracy and trying to do so elsewhere,” he said.
The president said directly to Russian residents: “If you can listen, let me say this,” he said. “You Russian people are not our enemy.” He described the horrors suffered by the Ukrainian people over the past month. “These are not the actions of a great country.”