‘We are Not Into Regime Change’: Kamala Harris Backs Away From Boss’ Comments on Putin
15:44 GMT 02.04.2022 (Updated: 15:57 GMT 02.04.2022)
Joe Biden’s impromptu “for God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power” remark about the Russian president at a speech in Warsaw last Saturday sparked panic in Washington, with the White House immediately entering damage control to try to “clarify” what Biden actually meant.
US Vice President Kamala Harris has weighed in on her boss’ comments that President Putin should be overthrown.
“Listen, let me be very clear, let me be very clear. We are not into regime change and that is not our policy. Period”, Harris said, speaking to MSNBC’s Joy Reid on Friday, after being pressed on whether she agreed with Biden’s sentiment that Putin “should no longer be the leader of Russia”.
Harris arrived at the answer after spending nearly five minutes talking about “the real issue at hand”, including US support for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, as well as alleged “extreme atrocities” by Russians against Ukrainians. “So you know, the sanctions are going to be severe and they will last as long as these atrocities and this aggression is continuing”, she said.
Biden’s remark that Putin “cannot remain in power” generated headlines worldwide, prompting the White House to try to smooth things out. A spokesperson explained that “the president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region”, and that Biden “was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change”.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured that the US has “no strategy” in place for regime change against 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”, he said.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said regime change was “not the policy of the United States.”
Biden himself was later pushed to comment whether he was calling for regime change. “No”
, was his blunt response. He later elaborated, however, that he was “not walking anything back”
, and that he was “expressing the moral outrage” he felt, not instituting “a policy change”.
The Kremlin called Biden’s comments “alarming”
and “a personal insult”, and said Russia would
“continue to closely monitor the statements by the president of the United States”.
Some US media and officials from both parties expressed alarm over Biden’s remarks. Fox News host Tucker Carlson suggested the comments may be worrying evidence of Biden’s severe cognitive decline, and that it may be time to use the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution to deem him incapacitated
and replaced by his vice president.
Former Democratic congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard suggested
Biden’s remarks were “not a gaffe at all”, but Biden saying “out loud what the aims and objectives of his administration’s policies are, which is regime change in Russia, to get Putin out of power”. Republican Senator Rand Paul also criticised
Biden over his remarks.
The United States government is world renowned for its involvement in regime change operations across the planet, going back to the 19th century. Between 1945 and 2012 alone, Washington has been involved in more than 70 operations
to try to topple and replace another country’s government, including Ukraine in 2014.