Biden Delivers Address in Poland: “Kyiv Stands Strong”

February 21, 2023

President Biden delivered remarks in Warsaw, Poland on Tuesday, three days before the one-year mark of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“One year ago the world was bracing for the fall of Kyiv,” Biden began. “Well, I’ve just come from a visit to Kyiv, and I can report, Kyiv stands strong. Kyiv stands proud. It stands tall, and most important is stands free.”

Biden then listed the many miscalculations Russian President Vladimir Putin had made in the year since his February 24 invasion of Ukraine: 

Putin thought Ukraine would roll over when he rolled his tanks into Ukraine, said Biden, but the people of Ukraine were “too brave.” 

“He thought he would get the ‘Finlandization’ of NATO. Instead he got the ‘NATO-ization’ of Finland—and Sweden.”

Putin thought he could weaponize energy. Instead the West is ending its dependency on Russian fuel.

Biden next turned his attention to the people of Poland, who he said knew solidarity better than anyone due to their “decades under the iron fist of Communist rule. Poland endured because you stood together.” 

He then compared the people of Poland to those in in the opposition in Belarus and the people in Moldova fight against the Kremlin’s aims of expansion.

Freedom” is “what’s at stake here,” Biden added. “That’s the message I carried to Ukraine.”

Biden then praised the people of Poland for having taken in 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees. “Poland’s generosity, your willingness to open your homes is extraordinary,” said Biden.

He went on to note that the world is also coming together to address the global fallout after Putin tried to “starve the world” by blocking the Black Sea. Instead, Biden asserted, partners in the Group of Seven economic “answered the call” to feed the global hungry. He added that First Lady Jill Biden is traveling to Africa this week “to address this critical issue.”

Continuing on the subject of global coaltions, Biden announced that next year he’s set to host every member of NATO at its 2024 Summit in the United States. 

“Together we’ll celebrate the 75th anniversary of the strongest defensive alliance in the history of the world, NATO,” Biden asserted. “And let there be no doubt: the commitment of the United States to our NATO alliance and Article 5 is rock solid. And every member of NATO knows it—and Russia knows it as well, an attack against one is an attack against all. It’s a sacred oath.”

He concluded by stating that the world, in his view, is “at an inflection point,” that the decisions made over the next five years will shape the globe for decades to come. 

“What kind of world do we want to build?” Biden asked, stating that it’s a choice between chaos and stability, between hope and fear, between democracy and dictatorship, between limitation and possibility, between captivity and freedom—and “there is no sweeter word…no nobler goal…no higher aspiration than freedom.” 

“Stand with us,” Biden promised, “and we will stand with you.” 

When his speech ended he was swarmed by numerous children waving miniature American, Polish and Ukrainian flags. 

Biden’s speech came a few hours after he and Polish President Andrzej Duda had convened behind closed doors, where Duda’s foreign policy adviser told reporters they would discuss Poland’s security and scaling up NATO resources in Poland.

Biden arrived in Poland one day after his surprise visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, where he met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and other officials, and gave a speech affirming U.S. support for Ukraine’s defense of its sovereignty.

Biden’s trip to Poland came on the same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his annual  state of the nation address in Moscow, during which he repeated an accusation he’s made many times before—that it was the West who started the war. “And we are using force to end it,” said Putin. 

Biden rebuked this claim by Putin during his speech in Warsaw. “The United States and the nations of Europe do not seek to control or destroy Russia,” Biden said, stating that he was speaking directly to the people of Russia. “The West was not plotting to attack Russia as Putin said today. And millions of Russian citizens who only want to live in peace with their neighbors are not the enemy. This war was never a necessity, it’s a tragedy. President Putin chose this war. Every day that it continues is his choice. He could end the war with a word. It’s simple.” 

Putin’s address Tuesday occurred after he had skipped his annual year-end marathon news conference in December for the first time in a decade.  Normally a huge event in Russia, Putin uses the news conference to tout the year’s accomplishments and to reveal priorities for the year ahead. 

Instead, numerous Russian pro-Putin pundits are railing against Biden’s trip to Kyiv for stealing Putin’s thunder ahead of Russia’s one-year “anniversary” of invading Ukraine, calling it a “humiliation” for Russia.

“Almost a year after the start of the Special Military Operation, in the Russian city of Kyiv we were waiting for the president of the Russian Federation, not the United States,” said a Telegram account run by Russian army and naval service members.

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