Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, never: Joe Biden.

In a speech to mark the first anniversary of the Ukraine war, US President Joe Biden mounted a fierce defence of the idea of freedom and democracy, lauded the Ukrainian people for their resistance against Russian aggression, spoke of the strength of the international community — particularly the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and of democracies worldwide — in supporting Ukraine, and reiterated the American commitment to supporting Kyiv.

While warning that difficult times lay ahead, Biden lashed out against Russian President Vladimir Putin for his “war of choice” in Ukraine, listed out Putin’s miscalculations, termed Russia’s atrocities as “crimes against humanity”, pledged to hold those responsible for the war accountable, and claimed that Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia.

Biden was speaking on Tuesday at the gardens of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, a day after he made an unprecedented visit to Kyiv to express his solidarity with the Ukrainian war effort. He spoke hours after Putin’s address in Moscow where the Russian president doubled down on his military offensive, blamed the West for sparking the war, and walked out of a key arms control treaty.

War in Europe

Recalling that a year ago, Russia had commenced the largest land war in Europe since the Second World War, the “principles” that underlay peace and prosperity risk being shattered and Kyiv risked falling, Biden referred to his visit to the Ukrainian capital and said, “I can report that Kyiv stands strong. It stands proud. It stands tall. And it stands free.”

The Russia’s invasion was a test for the whole world for ages, Biden claimed, and threw up many questions which have been answered. “Would we respond or look the other way…would we be strong or weak…would be united or divided? We responded and did not look the other way. We were strong. We were united.”

The world had stood for sovereignty, for the right of people to live free, for democracy. “And we will keep standing up, no matter what.”

Biden claimed that Putin had assumed that the Ukrainian people would “roll over” but they had proven to be “too brave”. Suggesting that Putin had hoped for the “Finlandisation of NATO”, Biden said what he got was the “NATOisation of Finland and Sweden”, a reference to the decision of the two countries to join the alliance.

The US president claimed that Putin thought NATO would fracture; instead, it was stronger than ever before; Putin hoped to weaponise energy, but instead, the West worked together to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels; he thought that autocrats were strong and democratic leaders weak, but democracies have grown stronger and autocracies weaker.

“One year into this war, Putin doesn’t doubt strength of our coalition. But he doubts our conviction, our staying power, our support for Ukraine, whether NATO can stay unified,” Biden said, adding that the support won’t fade and NATO won’t be divided. “We will not tire.”

Biden said the appetites of autocrats cannot be “appeased but must be opposed”. “Autocrats only understand one world — No, No, No…Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia. Never”.

Biden then alleged Russia had committed “crimes against humanity”. “It targeted civilians…used rape as a weapon of war…stole Ukrainian children…bombed train stations, maternity hospitals, schools…No one can turn their eyes away from Russian atrocities. Abhorrent.”

At the same time, Biden lauded the “extraordinary response” of Ukraine. “One year after bombs began to fall, Ukraine is still independent and free.”

He pointed out that Ukrainian flags fly over more than 50% territory that Russia held last year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continued to lead a free and democratic government, and the world had voted multiple times to condemn Russian aggression at United Nations.

World at an ‘inflection point’: Biden

But the US president also reached out to the people of Russia, saying that the West did not seek to “control or destroy Russia”. “This war is not a necessity but a tragedy.” Biden reiterated the US’s position that the war was Putin’s choice; if Russia stopped fighting, the war would end, but if Ukraine stopped, it would be the end of Ukraine.

Biden spoke of the support for Ukraine in Poland, thanking the country for hosting 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees, and in the US itself, where Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress had come together to support Ukraine. Addressing the global consequences of the war which has been the top concern of poor nations and the developing world, Biden blamed Putin for trying to “starve the world”.

But the US president also said that it was important to be “honest and clear-eyed” about the future and warned that “hard and bitter days” lay ahead as Ukraine continued to defend itself and launch a counter offensive. Saying that the world was an “inflection point”, Biden claimed that decisions taken in the next five years would determine lives for decades — and the choice was between chaos and stability, building and destroying, democracies and dictatorships, limitations and possibilities, and hailed the idea of freedom.

Earlier in the day, Biden met Polish president Andrzej Duda. A White House statement said that the two “reflected on their shared efforts to support Ukraine, impose consequences on Russia, and strengthen NATO”.

In a joint appearance, Duda thanked Biden for visiting Kyiv terming it “spectacular” and “a very strategic and very political move” and said that the visit had shown that America was able to “maintain the global order…and to show all the aggressors who want to destroy other people’s lives, who want to take control of other countries, who want to enslave other nations…there is no acceptance of the democratic community, represented by the United States of America, to such behaviour, to such acts”.

Previewing the speech, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan had earlier said that the US did not set the speech up as some kind of head-to-head with Putin. “This is not a rhetorical contest with anyone else. This is an affirmative statement of values, a vision for what the world we are both trying to build and defend should look like.”

On the choice of the location of the speech, Sullivan had called Poland a “critical player”. “Poland has been critical to hosting very large numbers of Ukrainian refugees, it has been a critical logistics hub for military assistance going into Ukraine, and it has been a strong voice as part of a unified Western effort to try to ensure that there are no cracks — that the West and the larger coalition of nations holds together strongly, again, for as long as it takes.”

Source- Hindustan Times.

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