In fiery speech, Biden says Putin cannot remain in power. With the war in Ukraine at a critical juncture, President Biden on Saturday used the capital of a country once dominated by the Soviet Union to demand an end to Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s vast power and to exhort U.S. allies to stand up to Russia’s brutal invasion of its neighbor.
“The test of this moment is a test of all time,” Biden said in what was designed as a rousing speech for unity uttered at a Polish castle destroyed by Nazis in World War II — and later rebuilt.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said of Putin — a dramatic final flourish to what the White House called a major speech and what appeared to be a call to unseat the man he has branded a killer and a war criminal.
The White House later Clarified that Biden Was not Urging regime change, which would have been a major shift in U.S. policy. “The president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region,” a spokesman told reporters traveling with the president and speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with White House protocol. “He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”
Still, the comments reverberated in Poland, Ukraine, Russia and beyond.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was not up to Biden to choose who leads Russia. “The president of Russia is elected by Russians,” he said, according to Reuters.
Biden, in his speech, also reached out to the Russian people, saying the United States and the West do not have grievances with them but with their leaders. And he called for worldwide unity, something the administration has not been able to galvanize, with numerous countries sitting on the sidelines of the conflict.
“All of us must do the hard work of democracy each and every day,” Biden said, “in Europe and in my country as well.”
He opened his remarks by invoking the late Pope John Paul II, a Pole, whose “Be not afraid” speech in Warsaw in 1979 inspired Poland to eventually break away from Communist rule.
Throughout his visit to Europe, Biden has emphasized the “sacred obligation” the U.S. and its NATO allies have to protect Poland and other member states if Russia spreads its attacks into the eastern flanks of NATO territory. He told Polish President Andrzej Duda in a meeting that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will defend “every inch” of its territory “for your freedom and ours.”
As Biden visited Warsaw, a fresh volley of explosions was heard on the outskirts of Lviv, in western Ukraine and just miles from the border with Poland. Black smoke billowed on the horizon. Ukrainian authorities said a Russian missile attack hit a fuel storage facility. Though the third attack in the vicinity of once-quiet Lviv, it was the first one close to the city’s population.
Iran’s top diplomat said Saturday that the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard accepted the idea of continuing to be sanctioned by the U.S. if it meant the restoration of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s remark in a state television interview may signal a possible opening over the stalemated Vienna talks. It also appeared timed for a visit Sunday by a European Union diplomat involved in the negotiations.
Sanctions on the Guard have been one of the remaining sticking points over restoring the tattered nuclear deal, outside of Russia’s demand at the 11th hour of guarantees over its trade relationship with Iran amid Moscow’s war on Ukraine. The Guard represents one of the major power bases in the Shiite theocracy and is answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In the interview, Amir-Abdollahian acknowledged that the Guard sanctions were a topic discussed.
“High-rank Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officials in the country always remind us at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of a point, and they say that you should do whatever is necessary for the interests of the country,” he said. “If you reach a point where the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps issue was raised, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps issue should not be an obstacle for you.”
He added: “In my opinion, the high-ranking officials of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are showing and raising their self-sacrifice to the highest level.”
Though later saying that he wouldn’t negotiate on the Guard sanctions, the remark Saturday represents the first time he or any other Iranian official suggested it could be traded away in the negotiations. It came as Spanish diplomat Enrique Mora, who has been the EU’s lead negotiator in the talks, was traveling to Iran for meetings Sunday.
Earlier Saturday in Qatar, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that all sides were “very close to an agreement” for a roadmap restoring the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. The deal collapsed in 2018 when then-President Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord.
“I hope it will be possible, because now we are discussing about [a] collateral issue which has nothing to do with the core of the nuclear deal,” Borrell said. “The work has been hard and we are reaching an end.”
An ice shelf the size of New York City has collapsed in East Antarctica, an area long thought to be stable and not hit much by climate change, concerned scientists said Friday.
The collapse, captured by satellite images, marked the first time in human history that the frigid region had an ice shelf collapse. It happened at the beginning of a freakish warm spell last week when temperatures soared more than 70 degrees warmer than normal in some spots of East Antarctica. Satellite photos show the area had been shrinking rapidly the last couple of years, and now scientists wonder whether they have been overestimating East Antarctica’s stability and resistance to global warming that has been melting ice rapidly on the smaller western side and the vulnerable peninsula.
The ice shelf, about 460 square miles wide holding in the Conger and Glenzer glaciers from the warmer water, collapsed between March 14 and 16, said ice scientist Catherine Walker of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. She said scientists have never seen this happen in this part of the continent, making it worrisome.
“The Glenzer Conger ice shelf presumably had been there for thousands of years, and it’s not ever going to be there again,” said University of Minnesota ice scientist Peter Neff.