US President Joe Biden delivered a speech during his brief visit to Poland on Tuesday. He spoke at length about the war in Ukraine and the need for the US and other Western allies to continue to stand behind Kyiv.
The timing of the speech was significant. Biden spoke just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin made a national address declaring that “defeating Russia is impossible.”
The speech in Poland followed a surprise visit to Ukraine by President Biden on Monday. He met with his Ukrainian counterpart President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv and the pair delivered a televised joint statement reaffirming US-Ukraine relations.
Biden’s speech in Poland
The US president again reaffirmed the commitment of the US to the Ukrainian war effort during his speech in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. He also reiterated his faith that Ukraine will ultimately triumph in the war against Russia, which has now been raging for just over a year.
“Autocrats only understand one word: no, no. no. No you will not take my country, no you will not take my freedom, no you will not take my future,” Biden said. “And I’ll repeat tonight what I said last year in the same place, a dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never be able to ease the people’s love of liberty. Brutality will never grind down the will of the free.”
“One year ago, the world was bracing for the fall of Kyiv. Well, I just came from a visit to Kyiv and I can report, Kyiv stands strong. Kyiv stands proud, it stands tall, and most important, it stands free,” Biden said, a day after his visit to Ukraine.
US support for Ukraine
Biden was keen to stress the role of the US in contributing arms and funding to Ukraine and doubled up on assurances that Washington would continue to act as a firm ally to Kyiv.
“The defense of freedom is not the work of a day or a year, it’s always difficult,” he said. “But Ukraine is steel for the fight ahead and the United States, our allies and partners continue to have Ukraine’s back as it defends itself.”
Indeed, the US has continued to supply Ukraine with significant amounts of military hardware. In late December last year, Biden pledged $1.85 billion in aid to Ukraine and dispatched a Patriot missile battery to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses.
This was followed up with the announcement in January that the US, alongside Western allies like Germany and the UK, would be sending Ukraine main battle tanks (MBTs) for use in the war. Ukraine is set to receive the M1A2 Abrams tanks from the US sometime late this year or early next year, according to recent reports.
Biden and US relations with Poland
Biden’s visit to Poland also served the purpose of strengthening bilateral ties between Washington and Warsaw.
The president of Poland, Andrzej Duda, was enthusiastic about the Biden visit, calling it “spectacular”. Duda expressed that the trip was “a sign that the free world, and its biggest leader, the president of the United States, stands by them.”
Poland has been anxious to shore up its defenses since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and has been a keen advocate for supporting Kyiv. Poland shares a border with Ukraine and also with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad Oblast, which is not connected to the Russian mainland.
Poland has also been requesting a greater US military presence on its territory to act as a deterrent against Russia. According to the US government, many american military personnel are on rotation in Poland. Washington and Warsaw also signed an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) in 2020 and the forces of both countries regularly train together.
On Sunday, before Biden arrived in Warsaw, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, “We are in the process of discussion with President Biden’s administration about making their presence more permanent and increasing it.”