United States President Joe Biden has warned Moscow that the West’s support for Kyiv in its fight against the Russian invasion “will not waver”, vowing that the conflict in Ukraine will never be a win for Russia.
Speaking in Warsaw on Tuesday after concluding a previously unannounced trip to Ukraine a day earlier, Biden hailed Ukrainian resistance to what he called Russia’s “aggression”.
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“One year after the bombs began to fall and Russian tanks rolled in Ukraine, Ukraine is still independent and free,” Biden said.
He called the war a “tragedy” that was a choice – not a necessity – by Russian President Vladimir Putin, stressing that the conflict would end if Russia ended the invasion of its neighbour.
“There should be no doubt: Our support for Ukraine will not waver, NATO will not be divided and we will not tire,” Biden told a crowd of thousands in the Polish capital.
Washington and its allies have provided billions of dollars in military, humanitarian and budgetary aid to Ukraine since the start of the conflict.
Biden spoke from Poland hours after Putin delivered a state-of-the-nation speech, blaming the West for the conflict in Ukraine.
“I would like to repeat: they started the war, and we used force in order to stop it,” Putin said, arguing that Moscow had pushed to end the conflict between separatists and government forces in eastern Ukraine, which started in 2014, through negotiations.
The Russian president added that his country will continue to push to “systematically” achieve its aims in Ukraine.
US officials have repeatedly asserted that Washington will back Kyiv “as long as it takes” – a stance reiterated by Biden on Tuesday.
“Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, never,” the US president said.
Russia launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 – nearly one year ago – after a months-long standoff that saw Moscow amass troops near the Ukrainian borders as Putin demanded an end to NATO expansion into former Soviet republics.
Moscow’s war campaign has been mired by military setbacks, as Western powers stepped up financial and military support to Kyiv. Russian officials have said that sending arms to Ukraine prolongs and intensifies the conflict.
On Tuesday, Biden stressed that Putin is failing in the Ukraine conflict and its strategic aims.
“He thought he’d get the Finland-isation of NATO; instead he got the NATO-isation of Finland and Sweden,” Biden said, referring to the two northern European countries’ push to join the US-led alliance.
Biden also reaffirmed the US commitment to the “sacred oath to defend every inch of NATO territory”. The alliance has a mutual defence pact, meaning an attack on any of its members is considered an attack on all.
The US president accused Russian forces of committing “crimes against humanity without shame or compunction” in Ukraine – a determination formally made by Washington last week.
“No one can turn away their eyes from the atrocities Russia is committing against the Ukrainian people. It’s abhorrent,” Biden said.
Crimes against humanity are systemic or widespread abuses – including murder, mass deportations or apartheid – directed against a civilian population.
Russia has rejected the US accusation as an attempt to “demonise” Moscow and inflame the conflict in Ukraine.
Addressing the crowd ahead of Biden on Tuesday, Polish President Andrzej Duda lauded the US president’s visit to Kyiv as a “spectacular gesture” of support to Ukraine.
“He put his foot on Ukrainian soil where war is raging. He demonstrated that the free world and its leaders are not afraid of anything,” Duda said of Biden.
“He showed that Ukraine is not alone, that it is supported by the most powerful state in the world and by the most powerful armed forces in the world.”
Duda expressed confidence that Kyiv will “win” the war, and that “Russia will have to leave Ukrainian land with shame”.