UK minister says Russian regime change ‘up to Russian people’ in Biden rebuke
Education minister Nadhim Zahawi has said it is “up to the Russian people” whether or not they remove Vladimir Putin in an apparent rebuke of Joe Biden’s comments in Poland yesterday.
The US President said last night in Warsaw that Putin “cannot remain in power”, before White House officials quickly backtracked and said Biden was not referring to “regime change” in Russia.
When asked today by Sky News whether he supported a regime change in Russia, Zahawi said: “I think that’s up to the Russian people. I think the Russian people are pretty fed up with what’s happening in Ukraine. This illegal invasion, the destruction of their own livelihoods, their economy is collapsing around them.
“I think the Russian people will decide the fate of Putin and his cronies. The important thing to remember is that there is evidence that war crimes have been committed in the Ukraine, targeting civilan areas in the Ukraine.
“Having innocent Ukrainians murdered by his regime is not something that sits well with the Russian people either.”
Biden said last night that the West would launch military action against Russia if Putin moved his army “one single inch of Nato territory”.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” he said.
Biden added: “Putin has the gall to say he’s denazifying Ukraine. It’s a lie, it’s just cynical — he knows that.
“And it’s also obscene. President Zelensky was democratically elected, he’s Jewish, his father’s family was wiped out in the Nazi Holocaust and Putin has the audacity — like all autocrats before him — to believe that might will make right.”
A White House spokesperson quickly backtracked and said: “The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region.”
The U-turn came after the speech drew a furious response from the Kremlin, with Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov saying “this not to be decided by Mr Biden”.
“It should only be a choice of the people of the Russian Federation,” he said.