Biden on Putin: ‘For the love of God, this man can’t stay in power’

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — President Joe Biden on Saturday called for the impeachment of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, saying, “For the love of God, this man can’t stay in power.”

Biden also used a speech in the Polish capital to vehemently defend liberal democracy and the NATO military alliance, while saying Europe must prepare for a long fight against Russian aggression.

In what was touted by the White House as a major address, Biden spoke outside the Royal Castle, one of Warsaw’s notable landmarks that was badly damaged during World War II.

He borrowed the words of Polish-born Pope John Paul II and quoted anti-communist Polish dissident and former president Lech Walesa as he warned that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine threatened to bring decades of war”.

“In this battle, we must be lucid. This battle will also not be won in days, nor in months,” Biden said.

The crowd of around 1,000 included some of the Ukrainian refugees who fled to Poland and elsewhere amid the brutal invasion.

“We have to commit now, to be this fight for the long haul,” Biden said.

President Joe Biden marveled on Saturday at the spirit and determination of Ukrainian refugees in the aftermath of Russia’s deadly invasion as he embraced mothers and children and pledged continued support from Western powers.

Biden, while in the Polish capital, listened intently as the children described the perilous flight from neighboring Ukraine with their parents. With a broad smile, he picked up a young girl in a pink coat and told her that she reminded him of his granddaughters. The president held parents’ hands and kissed them during the stop at a football stadium where refugees go to get a Polish ID number that gives them access to social services such as health care and schools.

Some of the women and children told Biden they had fled without their husbands and fathers, men of fighting age who were to stay to help the resistance against the forces that Russian President Vladimir Putin – “a butcher”, in the words of Biden – sent to Ukraine more than a month ago.

“What always amazes me is the depth and strength of the human spirit,” Biden told reporters after his conversations with refugees at the stadium, which more recently had served as a field hospital for patients with the disease. of COVID-19. “Each of those kids said something like, ‘Say a prayer for my dad or my grandfather or my brother who’s fighting over there.’

As Biden met with the refugees, Russia continued to shell towns across Ukraine. Explosions sounded in Lviv, the closest major Ukrainian city to Poland and a destination for internally displaced people that has been largely spared major attacks.

Images of Biden reassuring refugees and calling for Western unity contrasted with the dramatic scenes of flames and black smoke billowing so close to the Polish border – another jarring split-screen moment from the war.

The president, who was due to return to Washington later in the day, tried to use the final hours of his trip to Europe to reassure Poland that the United States would defend itself against any Russian attack, acknowledging that the NATO ally bore the burden of the war refugee crisis.

Before leaving Poland, Biden was scheduled to deliver a speech that was expected to focus on the difficult path ahead as US and Western allies continue to help Ukraine and push Russia to end its invasion.

“Your freedom is ours,” Biden told Polish President Andrzej Duda, echoing one of that country’s unofficial mottos.

At the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, the two leaders spoke of their mutual respect and common goals to end the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Although times are very difficult, today Polish-American relations are flourishing,” Duda said.

More than 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the war and more than 2.2 million Ukrainians have entered Poland, although it is unclear how many remained there and how many left for other countries. Earlier this week, the United States announced it would take in up to 100,000 refugees, and Biden told Duda he understood that Poland “carried a great responsibility, but that should fall entirely on the NATO”.

Biden called NATO’s “collective defense” deal a “sacred commitment,” and said unity in the Western military alliance was of the utmost importance.

“I am convinced that Vladimir Putin was counting on the division of NATO,” Biden said. “But he wasn’t able to do it. We all stayed together.

European security faces its most serious test since World War II. Western leaders have spent the past week consulting on contingency plans should the conflict spread. The invasion shook NATO from any complacency it might have felt and cast a dark shadow over Europe.

Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Biden’s speech would highlight “the urgency of the challenge before us” and “what the conflict in Ukraine means to the world, and why it’s so important that the free world stands united and resolute”. in the face of Russian aggression.

In addition to the meeting with Duda, Biden attended a meeting of U.S. and Ukrainian diplomatic and defense officials to provide an update on Ukraine’s military, diplomatic and humanitarian situation.

Warsaw, a city of nearly 1.8 million people, grew by around 17% in a month as refugees came in large numbers seeking shelter.

While Poles have so far welcomed Ukrainians, humanitarian efforts are largely the work of volunteers. Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski warned it was not sustainable and social services were crumbling under pressure.

The United States sent money and supplies to help the refugee effort. This week, Biden announced $1 billion in additional aid in addition to accepting refugees.

The United States and many of its allies have imposed several rounds of economic and other sanctions on Russian individuals, banks and other entities in the hope that the cumulative effect over time will force Putin to withdraw his troops. .

But no clear path to end the conflict has emerged. Although Russian officials have suggested focusing their invasion on Donbass, a region in eastern Ukraine, Biden told reporters, when asked if the Kremlin had changed its strategy, “I’m not not sure they did.”

Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani in Washington and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Poland contributed to this report.


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