US president Biden’s faux pas? - GulfToday

US president Biden’s faux pas?


Joe Biden

United States President Joe Biden seems to have committed a faux pas going by the clarification issued by the White House and then by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. At the end of his speech at Warsaw’s Royal Castle on Saturday, Biden said, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House official said, “The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”  Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov retorted to Biden’s remark saying, “That’s not for Biden to decide. The President of Russia is elected by Russians Blinken explained further on Sunday from Jerusalem where he is to attend the Arab-Israel-US summit: “As you know, and as you’ve heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia or anywhere else, for that matter. In this case, as in any case, it’s up to the people of the country in question. It’s up to the Russian people.”

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron cautioned against using strong words. Referring indirectly to Biden’s description of Putin as “butcher”, Macron said, “I wouldn’t use this type of wording because I continue to hold discussions with Putin.” Mr Macron explained: “We want to stop the war that Russia has launched in Ukraine without escalation – that’s the objective.” He told France3 TV on Friday: “If this is what we want to do, we should not escalate things – neither with words nor actions.” Interestingly Macron’s remarks came before Biden’s unguarded outburst in Warsaw on Saturday. Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told the Doha international forum: “If everybody burns bridges with Russia who is going to talk to them at the end of the day?” Kalin expanded on Turkey’s, a member of Nato, view of the ongoing war in Ukraine: “Ukrainians need to be supported by every means possible so they can defend themselves…but the Russian case must be heard, one way or the other.”  

The words of many of the European Members of Parliament, head of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenburg have been aggressive, and even belligerent towards Russia and Putin. Biden’s remarks only reflected the rising tempers among Western leaders as the war in Ukraine is entering a phase of attrition between the Russian and Ukrainian forces. This despite the overwhelming military power of Russia and Russian firepower through missiles having caused immense damage to the Ukrainian cities.

While Biden and some of the hawks in Europe want to adopt a tough stance towards Putin, many other including the French president are keen to seek a way out of the stalemate that has emerged in the war in Ukraine. There is a clear indication that the Russian military leaders want to focus more on consolidating their hold on the eastern parts of Ukraine, where there is a Russian-speaking majority including the Republic of Luhansk which is keen to join Russia. But the success of the fierce resistance put up by the Ukrainian forces has made their military leaders determined to resist the carving up of Ukraine by Russia. They want to drive out the Russians from the eastern parts of Ukraine through total guerilla warfare, said Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov. He said, “…The season of a total Ukrainian guerrilla safari will soon begin. Then there will be one relevant scenario left for the Russians, how to survive.” The war in Ukraine is set for the long haul, if both the Ukrainians and the Russians are keen to defend their respective political and military positions.

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