Vice President Kamala Harris walked back President Joe Biden’s apparent call for regime change after minutes of dodging the question on “The ReidOut” Friday.
Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” during his Saturday speech in Warsaw, Poland. The White House then denied the administration’s calls for regime change, claiming the president argued that “Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors of the region.”
MSNBC host Joy Reid asked Harris if she agrees with the president’s previous statement.
“Listen, I think that you frame the point quite accurately and well,” Harris began. “That America’s policy has been and will continue to be focused on the real issue at hand which is one, the needs of the Ukrainian people, which we will continue to support through humanitarian assistance and security assistance. But also insuring that there’s going to be serious consequences for Vladimir Putin and Russian aggression as it relates to Ukraine.”
The vice president then cited her visits to European countries in recent weeks to address the war in Ukraine, to which the leaders reportedly thanked the U.S. for “building the coalition” and “reinvigorating” the relationship between the U.S. and NATO alliances. (RELATED: Biden’s Call For Regime Change In Russia Unsettles Our Closest Allies)
Harris also noted that sanctions will become more severe “as appropriate” due to the “extreme atrocities” invoked by the Russians in Ukraine. She cited the bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol and millions fleeing their homes by an “unjustified” war.
“The sanctions are going to be severe and they will last as long as these atrocities and this aggression is continuing,” she said.
“So no luck on getting you to weigh in on whether he [Putin] should remain?” Reid said.
“Well no, listen, let me be very clear,” the vice president continued. “We are not into regime change and that is not our policy. Period.”
The day after his remarks, Biden told reporters he does not support regime change in Russia as he exited a Washington, D.C., church Sunday evening, where a reporter asked if wants “Putin removed.”
“No,” the president replied.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov pushed back against Biden’s remarks saying regime change should solely be the choice of the Russian Federation, CNN reported Saturday.
Julianne Smith, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, said Sunday that regime change in Russia is not the policy of the U.S. and that the president’s statement was a reaction to the stories he had heard when meeting Ukrainian refugees.