Russia’s president “cannot remain in power”, Joe Biden has said in a speech where he pleaded with Russians to stand up against the war, and told Ukrainians that the US stands with them.
In a powerful speech in Warsaw, Poland, the US president built on earlier remarks in which he called Vladimir Putin a “butcher”, describing him as “a dictator” and saying stopping the war in Ukraine is “the task of our time”.
He said: “Brutality will never grind down the will to be free. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia.”
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Mr Biden added at the end of his speech.
The White House later denied the US president was calling for regime change.
And a Kremlin spokesman, responding to Mr Biden’s comment, said: “That’s not for Biden to decide. The president of Russia is elected by Russians.”
• Powerful explosions on outskirts of city of Lviv in western Ukraine
• Kremlin’s top military officials appear for first time in weeks after ‘significant’ silence
• Survivor of theatre bombing tells of chaos in besieged Mariupol
• This woman’s waging her own battle against Putin – and all she needs is her mobile phone
• Responding to punishing sanctions, Putin attempts to swing his own financial sword
Mr Biden also told the people of Russia they are “not the enemy”, saying he refused to believe that they welcomed the violence and misery their troops were bringing to Ukraine.
“Millions of families are being driven from their homes, including half of all Ukraine’s children,” he said.
“These are not the actions of a great nation.”
Mr Biden’s words came just hours before Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered one of his regular addresses, calling for more from Western nations, including planes, tanks, anti-missile defence and anti-ship weaponry.
“This is what our partners have,” he said.
“This is what is covered with dust at their storage facilities.
“After all, this is all for freedom not only in Ukraine – this is for freedom in Europe.”
He added that eastern Europe was at risk of a clash with Russia “because they left only one percent of all NATO aircraft and one percent of all NATO tanks somewhere in their hangars”.
“One percent! We did not ask for more. And we do not ask for more. And we have already been waiting for 31 days!
“So who runs the Euro-Atlantic community? Is it still Moscow because of intimidation?
“Partners need to step up assistance to Ukraine.”
Putin ‘strangled democracy’
Earlier, Mr Biden had said “swift and punishing” costs are the only things that will get Mr Putin to change his course, a month after Ukraine was invaded.
He said his message to Ukrainians is simple: “We stand with you.”
Russia, he added, had “strangled democracy” and “sought to do so elsewhere”, while Mr Putin had “the gall” to say he did not invade Ukraine.
Mr Biden said: “It’s a lie. It’s just cynical. He knows that. And it’s also obscene.”
Mr Biden’s speech ends a four-day trip that also included an earlier stop for a series of summits in Brussels.
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters that Ukraine had received additional security pledges from the US on developing defence co-operation.
He also said that Ukraine agreed with the US on ways to put pressure on Europe to impose fresh sanctions on Russia.