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Biden says Putin 'can't remain in power,' warns him against attacking NATO

by Thaisa SemenovaMarch 26, 2022 11:05 pm
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U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland on March 26, 2022. (AFP/Getty Images)

In a speech wrapping up his two-day visit to Poland, U.S. President Joe Biden blasted Russian dictator Vladimir Putin for unleashing an all-out war in Ukraine and strangling democracy at home.

“For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power," Biden said at the end of the speech he delivered in Warsaw on March 26.

The line was interpreted by the media as Biden calling for regime change in Russia. After the speech, the White House officials tried to downplay the remark, saying that Biden improvised it and it didn't mean that Putin has to go.

In his speech, Biden also once again warned Putin against attacking NATO countries. Shortly before his speech in Warsaw, Russian missiles had hit Lviv, a regional capital in western Ukraine, located just 75 kilometers away from Poland, a NATO member. According to CNN, Biden was briefed about the strikes in Lviv ahead of the speech.

“Don’t even think about going on one single inch of NATO territory,” he said.

In the address, Biden once again said that opposing Russia’s military assault is part of a broader, global battle between democracy and autocracy.

Biden repeated that there will be no U.S. military presence in Ukraine, yet assured Kyiv of support. 

"My message to the people of Ukraine is a message I delivered today to Ukraine's foreign minister and defense minister, who I believe are here tonight: We stand with you. Period," he said.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle on March 26, 2022 in Warsaw, Poland. (Getty Images)

Biden’s speech concluded his three-day visit to Europe. After attending a NATO summit on March 23 in Brussels, Biden headed to Poland, where he met with Polish President Andrzej Duda, and attended a meeting with top U.S. and Ukrainian officials. Biden also met with Ukrainian refugees staying in Poland and the U.S. troops deployed in Rzeszow.

Defense aid

On March 26, Biden met with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov alongside U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Biden joined their meeting for about 40 minutes.

According to the White House, the officials met for an update on Ukraine’s military, diplomatic, and humanitarian situation and to discuss further efforts to help Ukraine fend off the Russian aggression.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the U.S. expressed “unwavering commitment” to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

U.S. President Joe Biden (back 2ndR) together with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (back 3rdR) and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (back R) attend a meeting on Russia's war in Ukraine with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (front 3rdL) and Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov (front 3rdR) in Warsaw on March 26, 2022. (AFP via Getty Images)

Following the meeting, Kuleba hinted that Ukraine and the U.S. have agreed on the next steps “to reduce the number of Russian missiles hitting Ukraine.” The official didn’t go into details in his Facebook post.

Kuleba also published a video where he thanked the U.S., saying that “no other country provided Ukraine with more support than the U.S.”

“Ukrainian unbreakable character and Western weapons, mostly American weapons, is the recipe for success on the battleground,” Kuleba said.

The U.S. allocated $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine in March only. The U.S. emergency assistance to Ukraine, which also includes humanitarian aid and funds to strengthen Ukraine’s economy, amounts to a total of $13.6 billion.

‘Sacred obligation’

Shortly after the meeting with Ukrainian officials, Biden reassured Polish president Duda that the U.S. is committed to NATO’s mutual defense provisions.

“We take Article Five as a sacred commitment, not a throwaway — a sacred commitment that relates to every member of NATO,” said Biden.

U.S. President Joe Biden (2ndL) and Polish President Andrzej Duda (L) arrive to review a military honour guard during an official welcoming ceremony prior to a meeting in Warsaw on March 26, 2022. (AFP via Getty Images)

Biden told Duda that “the most important thing that binds us together is our values,” adding that Putin had been counting on divisions in the Alliance “to be able to separate Eastern flank from the West, be able to separate nations based on past histories.”

“But he hadn’t been able to do it. We’ve all stayed together,” Biden said.

Refugee crisis

Poland welcomed over 2.2 million of Ukrainian refugees, more than any other country. In total, over 3.7 million Ukrainian fled Russia’s war by going abroad.

The U.S. has committed on March 24 to welcome up to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine. 

Biden met with some of the Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw on March 26.

U.S. President Joe Biden kisses a child while meeting Ukrainian refugees of Russia's war at PGE Narodowy Stadium in Warsaw, Poland on March 26, 2022. (AFP/Getty Images)

One woman Biden spoke with told him she was there with her daughter, but her husband and son are back in Ukraine fighting. 

The woman, via a translator, spoke about the horror her family has endured and said that “Ukrainian mothers are ready to strangle Putin with our bare hands.”

“You’re all brave, brave, brave,” Biden told the family, as quoted by CNN.

Thaisa Semenova
Thaisa Semenova
National reporter

Thaisa Semenova is a national reporter at the Kyiv Independent. She worked as a staff writer for the Kyiv Post until November 2021.

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