Keir Starmer reprimanded Joe Biden today for his “unhelpful” joke that Vladimir Putin “cannot stay in power” after the invasion of Ukraine.
While the White House tried to deny that the US is pursuing regime change, the Labor leader expressed frustration at the misstep.
Meanwhile, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi insisted that the UK is in ‘lockstep’ with America but that it is up to the Russian people to decide who runs their country.
But while on a visit to a London school, he joked about the role of ‘teaching czars’ in his own department, Mr Zahawi said: ‘There is one tsar I want to get rid of now, but that is up to the Russian people.’
Downing Street echoed Mr Zahawi’s comments that the decision was for Russians and denied there were any concerns about Mr Biden’s ability.
A nervous Mr Biden tried to clarify his comments overnight after Moscow grabbed them and allies sounded dismayed.
The president was asked by reporters if he wanted to “remove Putin” when he left the church in Washington DC.
He shouted ‘No!’ before getting into his motorcade.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Biden said, ‘For God’s sake, this man can’t stay in power,’ in a shocking apparent call for regime change in Moscow.
President Joe Biden, leaving Holy Trinity Church in Washington’s Georgetown borough, told a reporter, “No!” when asked if he called for regime change?
Keir Starmer today reprimanded Mr Biden for his “unhelpful” joke that Vladimir Putin “cannot stay in power” after the invasion of Ukraine.
“For God’s sake, this man can’t stay in power,” Biden said of Putin, who described the Russian president as a “craving for absolute power and control.”
A wrecked tank was seen on Saturday near a damaged building in Mariupol as civilians are evacuated along humanitarian corridors of the Ukrainian city controlled by Russian military and pro-Russian separatists
The unscripted comment came at the end of an impassioned speech from Poland on Saturday.
Emmanuel Macron then warned of an escalation “in word and deed” – saying it could hamper vital humanitarian efforts, including hopes of evacuating the devastated Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
Asked about Mr Biden’s comments this morning, Sir Keir told LBC radio: ‘Not useful, to say anything, to row back – important to say, for obvious reasons.’
The Labor leader said the situation in Ukraine is “very depressing” and that after the end of the Cold War, I “didn’t think that in my life we would get Russian tanks into a European country.”
Mr Zahawi told Sky News: “Both the White House and the President have been clear about this.
“We stand in line with them that it is up to the Russian people to decide who rules them and the future of their country.”
When asked if he supported Biden and said Putin should not stay in power, Zahawi replied: “No, what I would say is it’s up to the Russian people.
“I think the Russian people are pretty fed up, not only because they watch their friends – and some of them have relatives in Ukraine – are attacked by Putin’s regime – war crimes have clearly been committed because they target innocent civilians , in civilian areas.
“But I think President Biden is right when he says Putin has no place in Ukraine. They need to make sure that they withdraw from Ukraine because it is an illegal invasion of Ukraine – I think he is absolutely right about that.’
Emmanuel Macron has warned against escalating situation ‘in word and deed’
Secretary of State Antony Blinken downplayed the idea of regime change during a press conference in Jerusalem on Sunday
Macron said: “I wouldn’t use that kind of wording because I’m staying in talks with President Putin.
“We want to stop the war that Russia has started in Ukraine without escalating – that is the goal.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured reporters at a news conference in Jerusalem that the US is not looking for “regime change” in Moscow or anywhere in the world.
Mr Blinken said Mr Biden is referring to Putin’s influence outside his country – including Moscow’s bloody and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, which has now gone on for more than a month.
“I think the president, the White House, made it clear last night that President Putin simply cannot be given the power to go to war or to engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else,” Blinken said.
“As you know, and as you have heard us say repeatedly, we don’t have a regime change strategy in Russia—or anywhere, for that matter.”
“For God’s sake, this man cannot stay in power,” President Biden said in a shocking call for regime change in Moscow on Saturday.
There are concerns that Mr Biden’s slip-up could convince Putin that there is no point in compromising.
By contrast, Secretary of State Liz Truss has emphasized that sanctions could be lifted if Russia withdraws completely and pledges not to repeat the aggression.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quick to denounce Biden, saying: “It is not for the US president and not for the Americans to decide who remains in power in Russia.”
The White House was forced to clarify other uncomfortable comments from the president that suggest US troops were deploying, and had already deployed, to Ukraine.
Speaking to US paratroopers in Poland on Friday, Mr Biden said: “You will see when you get there – some of you have been there – you will see women, young people standing in the middle, in front of a damn tank, saying : ‘I’m not leaving’.’
Mr Biden’s mention of “when you get there” seems to suggest that troops would be deployed across the border into Ukraine, but the administration insisted there has been no change in its stance that the US will not enter the conflict. steps.
The White House had to clarify on Friday that US troops would not enter Ukraine after President Biden appeared to make a misstep in his speech to paratroopers in Poland.