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US President Biden in Warsaw

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PolandAfter Giorgia Meloni, who then went to Kyiv, it was US President Joe Biden’s turn to be received by the Polish leaders with full honours on Tuesday, 21 February.

After having been welcomed in the early afternoon by his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, Biden addressed a speech to Poland from the gardens of the Royal Castle in Warsaw:

Thank you for welcoming me back to Poland. You know, it was nearly one year ago, nearly one year ago I spoke at the Royal Castle here in Warsaw, just weeks after Vladimir Putin had unleashed his murderous assault on Ukraine. The largest land war in Europe since World War Two had begun. (…)

One year ago, the world was bracing for the fall of Kyiv. Well, I have just come from a visit to Kyiv, and I can report: Kyiv stands strong! (…)

When Russia invaded, it wasn’t just Ukraine being tested. The whole world faced a test for the ages. Europe was being tested. America was being tested. NATO was being tested. All democracies were being tested. And the questions we faced were as simple as they were profound. Would we respond or would we look the other way? Would we be strong or would we be weak? Would be — we would — would we be — all of our allies — would be united or divided? One year later, we know the answer. We did respond. We would be strong. We would be united. And the world would not look the other way. We also faced fundamental questions about the commitment to the most basic of principles. Would we stand up for the sovereignty of nations? Would we stand up for the right of people to live free from naked aggression? Would we stand up for democracy? One year later, we know the answers. Yes, we would stand up for sovereignty. And we did. Yes, we would stand up for the right of people to live free from aggression. And we did. And we would stand up for democracy. And we did. And yesterday, I had the honor to stand with President Zelensky in Kyiv to declare that we will keep standing up for these same things no matter what.

(…) [Putin] thought NATO would fracture and divide. Instead, NATO is more united and more unified than ever. (…) President Putin is confronted with something today that he didn’t think was possible a year ago. The democracies of the world have grown stronger, not weaker. (…) Our support for Ukraine will not waver, NATO will not be divided, and we will not tire. (…) Democracies of the world will stand guard over freedom today, tomorrow, and forever. (Applause.) For that’s what — that’s what’s at stake here: freedom. That’s the message I carried to Kyiv yesterday, directly to the people of Ukraine.

(…) And I’ll repeat tonight what I said last year in this same place:

 A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never be able to erase the people’s love of liberty. Brutality will never grind down the will of the free.

And Ukraine – Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia. Never. For free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness.

From Kherson to Kharkiv, Ukrainian fighters have reclaimed their land. (…) (…) So, tonight, I speak once more to the people of Russia. The United States and the nations of Europe do not seek to control or destroy Russia.

(…) This war was never a necessity; it’s a tragedy.

(…) If Russia stopped invading Ukraine, it would end the war. If Ukraine stopped defending itself against Russia, it would be the end of Ukraine. That’s why, together, we’re making sure Ukraine can defend itself. The United States has assembled a worldwide coalition of more than 50 nations to get critical weapons and supplies to the brave Ukrainian fighters on the frontlines. (…)”

The American president also insisted on the Atlantic alliance’s unwavering support in the face of possible Russian aggression against Poland:

An attack against one is an attack against all. It’s a sacred oath. A sacred oath to defend every inch of NATO territory.

President Duda addressed the crowd, in a speech that was retransmitted and quoted by many media outlets worldwide:

Today we see a Ukraine in flames. We see cities in flames, we hear the terrible news of Russian terror, we see people killed, murdered, we see housing estates destroyed – images closely resembling those of the Second World War.

(…) (…) Russia wants to become an empire again, to fulfil its ambition to enslave other nations. There is no consent to this from us, there is no consent from the free world! The President of the United States, the leader of the free world, Joe Biden, made a spectacular gesture. Yesterday morning, against all expectations, he stood in Kyiv, on Ukrainian soil – at open war. He showed that the free world and its leader fear nothing. He showed that Ukraine is not alone, that it has the support of the most powerful country in the world and the most powerful army in the world. That it has the support of the North Atlantic Alliance and that this support is solid and will not waver. This is a great sign. We are all with Ukraine all the time – from the very beginning.We are always in solidarity with Ukraine, since the very beginning. (…)

Everybody thought that Ukraine would fall in a matter of three days, in 72 hours. Ukraine has not fallen to this day, thanks to the heroism of the defenders of Ukraine, thanks to the heroism of the Ukrainian soldiers, but also thanks to the support given to Ukraine by the free world

 so that an imperial ambition to enslave other nations is punished and can never rear its ugly head. And that is why we are all saying today: Ukraine must win! That is why we support Ukraine. I thank the United States, I thank all the NATO countries that are sending aid to Ukraine. (…) But I also thank the United States and our Allies for strengthening our security – NATO’s eastern flank – so that nobody would even think of attacking our land. (…)”

Beyond issues of security and the war in Ukraine, other topics were also on the menu for the talks between Joe Biden and the Polish leaders, as was confirmed by Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller on Twitter: “Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki met with the American president at the Royal Castle. The Polish and American leaders discussed economic issues, including our country’s energy security. Our close relationship is reflected in our strategic economic cooperation.