President Joe Biden has refused to back down from a bold statement he made Saturday in Warsaw at the end of a speech on the Ukraine war. “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Biden insisted Monday that his comment “expressing my outrage” isn’t signaling a change in U.S. policy. “It doesn’t mean we have a fundamental policy to do anything to take Putin down in any way,” he said.
Biden’s ad lib is less important than the Ukraine-Russia negotiations that have been developing in Istanbul, says Mai’a Cross, the Edward W. Brooke Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at Northeastern. “The comment was what everybody has been thinking,” Cross says. “The Western alliances have all but said that a lot of the turmoil and unnecessary bloodshed could end if Putin stepped down or was overthrown in some way.”