Top GOP Intel lawmaker says Biden’s Putin comment complicates ending Ukraine conflict
The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee said President’s Biden comments over the weekend, in which he said Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power,” will put a further strain on U.S.-Russia relations.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said Biden’s declaration “makes it more complex to end the conflict in Ukraine.”
“How does he, in the future, sit with Vladimir Putin?” Turner added.
Biden on Monday left the door open to meeting with Putin but said it would depend on what the Russian president wanted to talk about.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its second month amid Biden’s visit to Brussels and Warsaw late last week in which he declared in a speech on Saturday that Putin “cannot remain in power,” which sparked mass confusion about whether the president had just changed official U.S. policy to favoring regime change in Russia.
After the White House attempted to quickly walk back his comments on Saturday, saying what Biden meant was that Putin should not exercise power outside of Russia, the president on Monday said his words reflected a personal “moral outrage” and not a stated policy change.
Turner said Biden’s pivotal speech in Warsaw should have served as a critical assertion against Russian aggression. Instead, Turner said, Biden’s remarks shifted the focus away from countering Russia’s attacks on Ukraine and onto confusion about regime change.
“That’s not President Biden’s decision, and it’s not ours either,” Turner said before adding that he believed Biden was mishandling the U.S. response.
The White House has warned for weeks that Russia has the potential to use chemical weapons in Ukraine.
The Wall Street journal reported that Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and two Ukrainian peace negotiators developed symptoms consistent with suspected poisoning following a meeting earlier this month in Kyiv.
Asked about this during a Washington Post event, Turner said that poisoning, murders and attacks on civilians should be expected from Putin as he escalates Russian aggression beyond the Kremlin’s borders.
“They’ve become more aggressive in space, more aggressive with their neighbors, and then ultimately on the heels of invading and annexing Crimea, on the heels of having invaded Georgia, now in a full-scale war with Ukraine,” Turner said.