Joe Biden is calling for regime change in Russia, and this time it is not a mistake

When President Joe Biden told the Warsaw-based world on March 26 that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin “cannot stay in power,” the White House quickly tried to downplay the US leader’s remarks, noting that Biden’s remarks were not a call for “regime change.” in Moscow.

But then Biden told reporters that “nothing backs down” and that his words were an expression of his “moral outrage” at the atrocities for which he believed the man he called a “war criminal” was responsible for Ukraine’s long war. .

The president doubled those accusations on Monday after images emerged that allegedly showed mass killings committed as a result of the withdrawal of Russian troops in the Ukrainian cities of Bucha and Trostyanets. Russia denies atrocities.

“You may remember being criticized for calling Putin a war criminal,” Biden told reporters on the White House lawn. “You saw what happened in Bucha … he is a war criminal.”

“But we need to gather information,” he added. “

Asked whether Putin himself should be held accountable for such accusations, Biden said he “should be held accountable.”

And while the Biden administration insists there have been no fundamental shifts in Washington’s policy, a concerted effort to gather evidence of Russia’s alleged wrongdoing in the conflict and bring officials, including Putin himself, to justice marks the first time in more than three decades. Russia’s post-Soviet history and more than two decades of Putin’s rule, which the United States has openly sought to impose on the Kremlin at a cost that could call into question the legitimacy of its leadership.

The consequences of such a historic shift are uncertain, albeit fraught with risks that could jeopardize relations between the two countries, which together hold about 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.

Putin has also long portrayed US unwelcome policies toward his country as an attempt to undermine his power and Russia’s position on the world stage.

This was announced by Rajan Menon, who is the director of the Grand Strategy Program at the Defense Priorities think tank, a senior fellow at the Salzman Institute for War and Peace at Columbia University and an honorary professor at New York City College. Newsweek that the “outrage” expressed by the Biden administration over recent reports of mass killings of civilians in Bucha and Trostyanets, as well as the “human catastrophe” surrounding Russia’s blockade of Mariupol, was “understandable and truly relevant.”

“Moreover, anger will grow because there are likely to be more horrific incidents,” he added. “However, there are two consequences to keep in mind when the President of the United States calls for regime change in Russia – even without the use of this term – and the trial of Putin as a war criminal.”

Menon said the first such consequence is that “it will be difficult for Biden to reject calls for additional military action, such as a no-fly zone, because those who call for them will ask why he is holding back when he himself confessed and condemned atrocities, and said that Putin should no longer be in power, and he really should be tried for war crimes.

“However, deeper US military intervention is not without risks,” Menon said. “[It’s] it is important to consider when the other side turns out to be the other nuclear superpower of the world ”.

Menon said the second order of consequences was “the tension between Russia’s harsh condemnations and the United States’ ability to promote a diplomatic settlement of the war – on terms acceptable to Ukraine, of course – whenever the time comes.”

“US involvement may be important, but Moscow may refuse,” Menon added. “Can you imagine Biden and Putin’s phone call, let alone a face-to-face meeting?”

The resulting combination shows US President Joe Biden during the signing ceremony at the White House in Washington on November 18, 2021 and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the United Russia party congress in Moscow on December 4, 2021.
MANDEL NGAN / MICHAEL METZEL / SATELLITE / AFP / Getty Images

Officials in Moscow have described the sharp decline in relations between them as Washington’s fault.

After Biden’s speech in Poland, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters last Tuesday that the Putin administration was still interested in US diplomacy and that “even in the most controversial times, we have reaffirmed our desire to build equal relations with Washington.”

“If their choice is what we see and which clearly leads to the destruction of bilateral relations, they will be responsible for it,” said Zakharova.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters shortly after Biden’s remarks that Putin’s fate “is not decided by Biden” because “Russia’s president is elected by the Russians.”

China, Russia’s main rival and Russia’s leading strategic partner, also took note of Biden’s comments.

On Twitter on March 28, China’s ambassador to Malta, Yu Dunhai, said it was “reasonable to think” that Biden’s call to step down was “not just a reservation.” Most likely, the envoy said, “it reveals the true intentions of the United States in the war in Ukraine, namely, to kill three birds with one stone: – regime change – a much weakened Russia – a more dependent Europe.”

The U.S. has a long history of trying to overthrow nasty world leaders by force, and even if it fails, Washington has used a wide arsenal of economic and diplomatic measures to maintain pressure on enemies.

Putin became one of eight heads of state blacklisted by the Finance Ministry’s Foreign Assets Control Office in February, days after he launched a war against Ukraine after failed talks with the United States and NATO on their military presence in the East. Europe and Kiev’s application to join the alliance.

Only four of the shortlist – President Alexander Lukashenko, Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro – were first sanctioned when they ruled their countries.

U.S. ties with nuclear North Korea have also been difficult, especially after then-President Donald Trump took the unprecedented step of meeting with Kim as part of a failed denuclearization process for peace. But the Biden administration has repeatedly made it clear that it does not view Lukashenko, Assad or Maduro as legitimate leaders and actively supports those who want to overthrow them.

All four sanctioned leaders are still in power.

Moscow’s own massive stockpile of nuclear weapons, its internal stability and its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council severely limit the US’s ability to challenge Putin’s government, even as the State Department has stepped up criticism of Putin’s imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Russia’s power and influence, even in the face of a coalition of sanctions against the country led by the United States and the European Union, also make it unlikely that Putin or his top officials will actually face criminal liability in forums such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague. , Netherlands.

“To put aside the question of whether those responsible for Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine should be held accountable – and, in the abstract, they should be – the possibility that Putin or someone close to him will be tried by the Interior Ministry, under which Russia is a founding treaty. recalled in 2016, or any other international tribunal, is far away at best, ”Menon said.

The White House has also abandoned such measures against U.S. and allied citizens, with the Trump administration going so far as to impose sanctions on Interior Ministry officials in response to an attempt to investigate possible war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The Biden administration lifted the sanctions last year, but strongly opposed any attempt by the Interior Ministry to investigate Israel for possible violations of international law against Palestinians during their long conflict.

And, unlike the changing currents of the U.S. political system, Putin must remain in power for some time if changes to the law allow him to run for another four-year term in 2024. In the year Biden faces a potentially tough presidential race, one of Russia’s state media outlets has publicly expressed hope that it will bring Trump back to power.

Even with the tightening of sanctions that his war in Ukraine has brought to his country, a recent poll by Moscow’s independent Levada Center shows a significant increase in domestic support for Putin, bringing his commitment to 83%.

No matter how deep the gap between Washington and Moscow is, the two sides are destined to deal with each other for the foreseeable future.

“Will calls for such courts worsen US relations with Russia?” Menon asked rhetorically. “Yes,” he said.

“Will they continue?” He added. – Yes.

The White House did not immediately respond to this Newsweekrequest a comment.

This is news that is evolving. More information will be added as it becomes available.

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