Macron Rebukes Biden for Misspeaking in Poland

French President Emmanuel Macron sought to distance himself Sunday from U.S. President Joe Biden’s latest gaffe, which came in impromptu remarks in Poland. On Biden’s last day in Europe after meeting with Ukrainian refugees, he said Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “butcher” who “cannot remain in power.”

Biden’s apparent call for regime change in Moscow came on the heels of other recent statements declaring Putin to be a “murderous dictator” and a “war criminal.” The administration — and European allies — were surprised by the remarks and immediately began walking back from the president’s misstatement.

As for Macron, the French president said he would avoid such statements because he continues to speak with Putin on everything from evacuating refugees from besieged Mariupol to ending the war. Macron emphasized the goals of the West are to “to stop the war…without waging war and without an escalation.”

Macron said the West’s first objective is to reach a cease-fire and then a total withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine, all through diplomatic means. While stressing the U.S. is an important ally, Macron noted it’s Europeans who live next to Russia.

This is an important observation by the French president who, while remaining a close U.S. ally, faces the pressure of having a giant authoritarian neighbor that is already aggressively anti-NATO.

Biden’s unscripted remarks drew an immediate reaction as Russia predictably responded harshly, including an admonition that “a head of state should stay sober.” Vyacheslav Volodin, president of the lower house of parliament, called the U.S. president “weak, sick, and unhappy.”

U.S. officials previously asserted that removing Putin was not part of the administration’s agenda and that “the Russian people have to decide who leads them.” And Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized Sunday during a visit to Jerusalem that the White House does not have a strategy of regime change “in Russia or anywhere else.”

While Biden the man may privately express frustration and even rage over the barbaric Russian attack on Ukraine, Biden the president and leader of the free world must display more control in public. Pushing Putin even further into a corner diminishes prospects for peace, and therefore causes more of what enraged Biden to begin with.