Blinken says US not seeking regime change in Russia

Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds a press conference

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday said the U.S. wasn’t seeking “regime change” in Moscow.

“In any event, it’s not up to us,” he told the BBC from Brussels. “The Russian people need to decide their leadership. They need to decide whether the leaders that are there are actually advancing and representing their needs, their interests, their will. It’s absolutely not up to us.”

Blinken said he would ask the Russian people, if he could, how the “war of aggression, unprovoked, unwarranted on Ukraine” is helping them in their everyday lives.

“How is it sending a kid to school? How is it getting you a job? How is it cleaning the air? How is it dealing with the things you care about?” he questioned. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a media conference in Brussels, Friday, March 4, 2022. 
(Associated Press)

On the contrary, he told the BBC, the Russian people are “tragically” bearing the burden of President Vladimir Putin’s war because of the massive sanctions imposed on the country by the U.S. and its allies. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine last week. 
(Getty Images)

The secretary also praised the “resilience” of the Ukrainian people, saying, “If it’s the intention of Moscow to try somehow to topple the government and install its own puppet regime, 45 million Ukrainians are going to reject that one way or the other.” 

Blinken arrived in Brussels on Friday for meetings with NATO allies. He will be in Europe for a week, traveling next to Poland, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

His dismissal of regime change came a day after U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was heavily criticized for suggesting someone in Russia should assassinate Putin. Blinken didn’t mention Graham’s tweet in his comments. 

The White House refuted Graham’s remarks as well. 

“That is not the position of the United States government and certainly not a statement you’d hear come from the mouth of anybody working in this administration,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday. 

On Friday, Graham backtracked slightly, calling for Putin’s arrest and saying the Russian leader should be declared a war criminal. 

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