Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that he does not think President Biden is afraid of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In an interview with Fox News, Zelensky commented on the relationship between Biden and the Russian leader.
“I don’t know if President Biden is fearing President Putin. I don’t — I believe that he doesn’t. I want to believe that he doesn’t because he is the leader of a big nation, a great nation,” Zelensky told Fox News’s Bret Baier on the outlet’s “Special Report.”
“I’m holding my fist — that’s our tradition. I don’t know if you understand this standard. I hold my fist or cross my fingers so that this will never happen, that any president of the United States would fear Russia, because America for us was always a symbol of democracy, and I have faith that Ukraine is also now — for Ukraine, you are also a symbol of freedom,” he added.
The West’s relationship with Russia has become extremely strained after the country invaded Ukraine. The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and other allies have imposed crushing sanctions on members of the Russian government, wealthy Russians with ties to the Kremlin and Russian banks.
The United States in particular has banned the import of Russian oil.
Biden himself has offered searing rebukes of Putin in the past month. The president and members of his administration have repeatedly referred to the Russian invasion as Putin’s war of choice, arguing that the Russian people themselves have not chosen war in Ukraine.
Biden has also previously called Putin a “war criminal” and most recently remarked that the autocrat “cannot remain in power” during a speech last weekend in Warsaw, Poland.
The comments caused a slew of controversy, with some interpreting the remarks as Biden calling for regime change in Russia.
However, the administration appeared to walk back the remarks, and on Friday, Vice President Harris underscored that they are “not into regime change.”
“Let me be very clear. We are not into regime change. And that is not our policy. Period,” Harris told MSNBC’s Joy Reid.
Following Biden’s remarks in Poland, the Kremlin said that the American president’s words were a “personal insult.”
“First of all, it’s — first of all, it is personal insult. And one can hardly imagine a place for personal insult in rhetorics of a political leader, and especially a political leader of the greatest country in the world, of the United States,” Putin’s spokesperson said in response.
“So, we’re really sorry about that. And his statement involves whether Putin should not or should be in power in Russia. Of course, it is completely unacceptable. It is not for the United States’ president to decide who is going to be and who is the president of the Russian Federation. It is people of Russia who are deciding during the election,” he added.
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