Russia

Putin spokesman: Biden comment in Poland a ‘personal insult’

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Even before Russian troops moved across eastern Ukraine in late February, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government was flooding channels with information casting Ukraine as an aggressor and pedaling the narrative that the country needed to be denazified.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chief spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that President Biden’s comments about Putin over the weekend, in which he said the Russian leader “cannot remain in power,” were a “personal insult.”

Peskov, who is also Putin’s deputy chief of staff, told PBS on Monday that Biden’s comments were “alarming.”

“First of all, it’s — first of all, it is personal insult. And one can hardly imagine a place for personal insult in rhetorics of a political leader, and especially a political leader of the greatest country in the world, of the United States,” he said.

“So, we’re really sorry about that. And his statement involves whether Putin should not or should be in power in Russia. Of course, it is completely unacceptable. It is not for the United States’ president to decide who is going to be and who is the president of the Russian Federation. It is people of Russia who are deciding during the election,” he added.

Peskov said that Russia has “no doubt that all the objectives of our special military operation in Ukraine will be completed.”

He highlighted Putin’s Feb. 24 speech ordering the “special military operation” in Ukraine and emphasized that in his remarks, the Russian leader had warned foreign governments not to interfere in the affairs between Ukraine and Russia.

“He was very strict in his warning, and he was quite tough on that. And I think that everyone understands what he meant,” Peskov said.

When pressed to answer whether that means Putin suggested he would use nuclear weapons if a third party got involved in the conflict, Peskov told PBS’s Ryan Chilcote, “No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so.”

However, he added that Putin was “quite bold in saying that, do not interfere.”

He said that Russia would then “have all the possibilities to prevent that and to punish all those who are going to interfere.”

At the end of a speech in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, Biden said, “for God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” which was widely interpreted as meaning Putin should be removed from his position atop Russia’s government.

The White House immediately attempted to walk back Biden’s comment, saying that the president meant to convey that Putin “cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region” and was not discussing “regime change.”

Peskov’s comments came the same day Biden downplayed the risk of upending diplomatic relations with Russia or giving Putin fodder to escalate his attacks, while delivering his administration’s budget proposal on Monday.

Tags Dimitry Peskov Joe Biden Russia Russia-Ukraine conflict Vladimir Putin

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