President Joe Biden has a long history of making gaffes and misstatements while speaking publicly that are typically harmless or even humorous.
Biden said something Saturday that required an immediate clarification from the White House, however, when he appeared to call for regime change in Russia and the removal of Russian President Vladimir Putin from power, USA Today reported.
The remarks from Biden, regardless of the quick spin and damage control of his communications team, risk escalating tensions and being viewed as a provocation by Russia, which may, in turn, feel forced to escalate its aggressive acts in perceived sovereign defense.
Regime change policy toward Russia?
President Biden delivered a speech in Warsaw, Poland on Saturday to close out his four-day trip to Europe this week and, as he has done increasingly, employed highly sharpened rhetoric against the Russian president.
At the end of his remarks, after having repeatedly railed against “butcher” Putin, Biden declared, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
Almost immediately, the White House issued a clarification to what Biden had said. “The president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region,” an unnamed official told the media, according to USA Today. “He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”
Likewise, Russia wasted little time in firing back, either, as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “it’s not up to the president of the U.S. and not up to the Americans to decide who will remain in power in Russia,” and added, “Only Russians, who vote for their president, can decide that.”
The U.S. would use chemical weapons against Russia?
Unfortunately, this was not the only gaffe uttered by Biden during his trip that risked escalating the Russian-Ukraine conflict into World War III, as the U.S. president also seemed to imply in one instance that the U.S. would employ chemical weapons against Russia as well as another instance where he appeared to suggest that U.S. troops had been and would be deployed directly into Ukraine to fight against the Russian forces.
On Thursday, during a press conference at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Biden was asked about the threat of Putin using chemical weapons in Ukraine and replied that if such a thing happened, “We would respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.”
Pressed for clarification on that moments later, the president said that if chemical weapons were used then it would “trigger a response in kind” — meaning the use of the same sort of banned weaponry.
U.S. troops deployed to Ukraine?
On Friday, while speaking to 82nd Airborne troops deployed to Poland, Biden suggested some of those troops had already been deployed to Ukraine and would soon be deployed again — which would be perceived as a huge provocation by Russia — while discussing the bravery exhibited by Ukrainian civilians amid the ongoing Russian invasion.
“And you’re going to see when you’re there. And you — some — some of you have been there,” he told the U.S. troops. “You’re going to see — you’re going to see women, young people standing — standing the middle of — in front of a damn tank, just saying, ‘I’m not leaving. I’m holding my ground.’ They’re incredible. But they take a lot of inspiration from us.”