May 17, 2022

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Kremlin: Biden’s comment on Putin’s death ‘disturbing’

Kremlin: Biden's comment on Putin's death 'disturbing'

US President Joe Biden speaks during an event at the Royal Castle, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Warsaw, Poland, March 26, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hochstein/File Photo

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  • Biden says Putin can’t stay in power
  • Russia says the note is worrying
  • US downplayed Biden’s remark
  • Expect a long war – says Deripaska

LONDON (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Monday US President Joe Biden’s statement that Vladimir Putin “cannot stay in power” was a cause for concern, a cautious response to the first public call from the United States to end Putin’s 22-year rule.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said on Saturday, closing a speech to a crowd in Warsaw. He described the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a battle in a much broader struggle between democracy and authoritarianism.

The White House tried to clarify Biden’s comments and the US president said on Sunday that he had not publicly called for regime change in Russia, which has more nuclear warheads than any other power.

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Asked about Biden’s comment, which received little coverage on Russian state television, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “This is certainly a disturbing statement.”

“We will continue to follow the statements of the American president in the most attentive way,” Peskov told reporters.

Putin has not publicly commented on Biden’s statement – which comes amid the biggest standoff between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War.

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In his first live appearance since the comment, Putin appeared on state television on Monday briefed by Alexander Sergeyev, head of the Russian Academy of Sciences, about carbon buildup in mollusks and the use of artificial intelligence to decipher ancient Tibetan manuscripts.

Biden called Putin a “murderer” last year. Following this comment, Biden phoned Putin who then said he was satisfied with the US leader’s interpretation of the remark.

‘Regime change’?

However, such a blunt remark from Biden about the need to end Putin’s authority seems to violate the rules of US-Russian relations, and also fits, oddly, with the account of the former KGB spies who make up Putin’s closest circle in the Kremlin.

“It is unusual for a president to talk about regime change so openly,” William Woolforth, professor of government affairs at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, told Reuters.

“But this does not seem unusual from the perspective of Putin’s propaganda because it is often described as the goal of US foreign policy,” Woolforth said.

Putin’s inner circle, including the head of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, who was a former head of the powerful spy agency of the Federal Security Service, has long argued that the United States is planning a revolution in Russia.

Dmitry Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012, said March 23 that the world could be headed toward a nuclear dystopia if Washington pressures what the Kremlin describes as a long-running plot to destroy Russia. Read more

Medvedev painted a bleak picture of a post-Putin Russia, saying it could lead to an unstable leadership in Moscow with “the maximum number of nuclear weapons aimed at targets in the United States and Europe”.

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ideological war

Putin, Russia’s supreme leader since Boris Yeltsin’s resignation on the last day of 1999, considers the war in Ukraine necessary to protect his country’s vital interests against the United States, which he says is bent on world domination. He is particularly eager to stifle Ukraine’s hopes of joining NATO.

Ukraine says it is fighting for its very survival against the Russian Empire-style land grab that divided the two largest peoples of the East Slavs.

Biden’s remark about ending Putin’s rule overshadowed a discourse that had a much broader theme: the battle between democracy and authoritarianism.

This indicates a much longer war, according to Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska. Read more

“Now there is some kind of infernal ideological mobilization going on from all sides,” he said on Sunday.

“It seems that all sides are recklessly preparing for a protracted war that will have tragic consequences for the entire world,” said Deripaska, who has been sanctioned by the United States and Britain.

Under constitutional changes approved in 2020, Putin, who will turn 70 this year, may seek to run for two additional 6-year terms as president, allowing him to remain in power until 2036.

The Kremlin says that Putin is a democratically elected leader and that it is the Russian people, not Washington, who decide who leads their country.

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Reporting by Reuters. Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Gareth Jones

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.