“The world’s democracies are being invigorated,” Biden said of the global response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking from a former castle in Warsaw to an including crowd Ukrainian refugeesBiden criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin and called on the Russian people to choose a different path for their country. He also urged Europe to end its dependence on Russian gas and unite behind a pressure campaign on Putin.
“It won’t be easy, there will be costs,” the president said, as the crowd waved flags of the United States, Ukraine and Poland. “But it is a price we have to pay. Because the darkness that drives tyranny is in the end no match for the flame of freedom that lights the souls of free people everywhere.”
“We stand with you,” he said of Ukraine.
Biden attacked Putin for repeatedly claiming before the invasion that he had no intention of entering Ukraine, and criticized him for his brutality since the military offensive began. Moments before Biden spoke, the Ukrainian city of Lviv, which has been a relative safe haven within the country, was hit by at least three missile strikes.
“For God’s sake, this man can’t stay in power,” Biden said of Putin.
A White House official later said the president was not calling for Putin to be fired. “The president’s view was that Putin could not be allowed to exercise his authority over his neighbors or the region,” the official said. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.
The Kremlin was quick to catch this remark. “This is not Biden’s decision,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Reuters. “The President of Russia is elected by the Russians.” Russia has for years accused the United States and its allies of trying to change the regime in its country.
But Biden also painted a hopeful picture – one in which freedom reigns over authoritarian regimes and where unity among Western allies has never been stronger.
“A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never be able to erase people’s love for freedom. Brutality will never eliminate the will for freedom. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, because free people refuse to live in a world full of dystopia. Desperation and darkness,” Biden said.
Biden referred to many famous historical Polish figures, such as Pope John Paul II and former president Lech Wasa, and referred to the battles Poland has faced over the years for freedom.
It was a message to the Polish people – who filled the streets out of place to hear Biden’s words – as they found themselves on the front lines of the refugee crisis and increasingly afraid that they might be Russia’s next target.
“At this hour, let Pope John Paul’s words burn as bright today, never lose hope, never doubt, never tire, never be discouraged. Never be afraid,” Biden said.
Biden also had a message for the Russian people, warning him that Putin’s actions would cut him off from the world and “put Russia back into the nineteenth century.”
“This is not what you are, this is not the future you deserve for your family and your children,” Biden said. “This war is not for you, Russian people. Putin can and must end this war.”
Before giving the speech, Biden met with Ukrainian refugees and aid workers at a sports stadium that once hosted rock concerts and football matches. It now provides temporary shelter to refugees, helping them register for school and work.
In the stadium, a group of women and refugee children gathered around Biden to tell him their experiences, asked him to pray for their male relatives in Ukraine, and thanked him for the support of the United States. Biden hugged a woman with tears in her eyes and snapped a little girl dressed in pink winter clothes for a photo with her. The girl’s mother told Biden how her daughter and child had been sheltering in a basement before arriving in Poland.
“I’ve always been amazed at the depth and strength of the human enemy, I mean it honestly,” Biden said after meeting refugees. “They are an amazing group of people.”
When asked by a reporter about reports of a change in Russian strategy, Biden appeared skeptical. “I’m not sure about that,” he said. A Russian general said on Friday that troops are turning away from their offensive on Ukraine and refocusing on the “complete liberation” of the country’s breakaway region of Donbas.
When asked about his opinion of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine, Biden was candid. “He’s a butcher,” Biden said.
The refugee crisis was present throughout Biden’s two days in Poland. As Biden’s motorcade headed to a meeting with the Polish president on Saturday, it passed through Warsaw train station as a steady stream of refugees just arriving in the country lined up for food and basic supplies like toilet paper, asking for help with housing and transportation.
While Poland has welcomed refugees with open arms, and signs of support for Ukraine have emerged covering the city, Polish officials, including the mayor of Warsaw, whom Biden met on Saturday, said they are being pushed to the brink in a bid to provide more help. More than two million refugees flooded into the country in a matter of weeks.
“We recognize that Poland bears a huge responsibility, and I don’t think it should be just Poland,” Biden told President Andrzej Duda during Saturday’s meeting. “It should be the whole world. The responsibility of all nations.”
Biden also offered fervent reassurances that if Russia attacked Poland, the United States would defend itself as part of its commitment under NATO.
Biden’s speech capped three days in Europe, where he conducted what could be some of the Most subsequent meetings his presidency with world leaders, seeking to solidify their unity behind an ongoing pressure campaign against Russia.
The White House had said it hoped Biden’s speech would help unite support for the Ukrainian people, hold Russia accountable, and frame the conflict as a larger fight for democracy.
The United States announced a series of steps this week to try to escalate pressure on Russia and help Ukraine, including additional sanctions on more than 400 Russian and Russian entities, $1 billion in humanitarian aid, plans to take in 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, and the force’s mission to reduce European dependence on natural gas. Russian.
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