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he doesn't speak for us

NATO allies distance themselves from Biden's comment that Putin must not 'remain in power'

Key NATO allies spoke up this weekend to distance themselves from what many interpreted as President Biden's call for regime change in Russia.

During a speech in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin, "For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power."

The White House quickly walked back the ad-libbed statement, claiming that Biden's "point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region" and that Biden "was not discussing Putin's power in Russia or regime change."

French President Emmanuel Macron, who speaks frequently with Putin, said Saturday that Biden had spoken too forcefully, The Wall Street Journal reported. "I wouldn't use this type of wording because I continue to hold discussions with President Putin," Macron said, adding that "the objective" is "to stop the war," not to depose Putin.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also weighed in during a Sunday appearance on German television. Regime change "is not the aim of NATO, and also not that of the American president," Scholz said. "We both agree completely that regime change is not an object and aim of policy that we pursue together."

In the United Kingdom, cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi said Sunday that it is up to "the Russian people to decide how they are governed," The Guardian reported.

"The Russian people, I think, are pretty fed up ... I think the Russian people will decide the fate of Putin and his cronies," added Zahawi, the U.K.'s education secretary.