White House rows back Biden’s comments about Putin

The White House is scrambling to row back Joe Biden’s declaration that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”, insisting he was not calling for a regime change.

In an impassioned speech in Warsaw, the US president appealed to Russian people directly, with comparisons between the invasion of Ukraine and the horrors of the Second World War.

“For God’s sake this man cannot remain in power,” the US president said at the close of his speech of the Russian president he earlier described as a “butcher”.

Mr Biden pleaded “if you’re able to listen: you, the Russian people, are not our enemy”, as multiple rockets struck the city of Lviv near the Polish border in the west of Ukraine.

But a White House official tried to argue that the US president’s point was that the Russian leader “cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region”.

“He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change,” the official added, before reports in the US suggested the remarks in question had not been scripted.

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