President Biden said Thursday night that he’s concerned about Russian President Vladimir Putin lacking an “off ramp” from his seven-month invasion of Ukraine — but Finland’s prime minister strongly replied that the answer is to “leave Ukraine.”
Biden has made a series of remarks criticized as weak throughout the Russia-Ukraine crisis, of which his fretting to donors in New York City about an “off ramp” for Putin is just the latest.
The president told Democratic Senate campaign donors that for the “first time since the  Cuban Missile Crisis, we have a direct threat of the use of nuclear weapons if in fact things continue down the path they are going.”
“I’m trying to figure out what is Putin’s off ramp?” Biden continued. “Where does he find a way out? Where does he find himself in a position that he does not not only lose face but lose significant power within Russia?”
When asked about Biden’s remark, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin gave a simple rebuttal.
“The way out of this conflict is for Russia to leave Ukraine. That is the way out of the conflict,” Marin told reporters Friday in a snap-back widely circulated on social media.
Putin this week signed a law to annex four partially occupied Ukrainian regions, despite recent Russian battlefield losses that forced a mass mobilization by the Kremlin to replenish troop ranks.
Although Biden has presided over the distribution of massive amounts of US financial and military aid to Ukraine, he also has repeatedly irked Ukraine advocates with rhetorical missteps.
Biden said in June that Ukraine might have to cede land to Russia in a “negotiated settlement” and that “I’m not going to tell them what they should and shouldn’t do” — after European leaders including then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanded a full Russian withdrawal.
Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 about a month after Biden said at a White House press conference that the US would respond differently if Russia launched a “minor incursion” into the country, as opposed to a full-scale war, a comment which horrified Ukrainian leaders.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly responded to Biden that “there are no minor incursions.” And a Ukrainian official told CNN, “This remark potentially gives the green light to Putin to enter Ukraine at his pleasure. Putin senses weakness.”
Biden sought to walk back the minor incursion remark by saying that Putin “has no misunderstanding” about the “severe” economic sanctions that would follow a Russian invasion of Ukraine. He said he wanted to clarify, “If any, any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion.”
Biden also upset Ukrainian officials in January by allegedly telling Zelensky to brace for a “sack” of Kyiv. White House National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne described the report as “completely false.” But Zelensky later said he rejected a US offer to fly him to safety. The Ukrainian president said he replied, “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”