Biden takes aim at Russian president in Warsaw speech: ‘Putin chose this war’

President Joe Biden delivers a speech marking the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, at the Royal Castle Gardens in Warsaw. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Biden on Tuesday took aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin in remarks from Poland ahead of the anniversary of the war in Ukraine, arguing the Russian leader’s “craven lust for land and power” had only served to unite democracies around the world. 

Biden addressed thousands of people in Warsaw to mark one year since Russia invaded Ukraine. He repeatedly invoked Putin’s name in his remarks as he framed the battle as part of a broader confrontation between autocracies and democracies.

“President Putin’s craven lust for land and power will fail, and the Ukrainian people’s love for their country will prevail,” Biden said. “Democracies of the world will stand guard of our freedoms today, tomorrow, and forever. That’s what’s at stake here — freedom.”

The president’s speech came roughly one year after he first visited Warsaw just after the start of the war and, in an impromptu moment, declared Putin could not remain in power. White House aides later walked back the comment, insisting Biden was not advocating for regime change.

But in his remarks on Tuesday, the president made clear Putin was responsible for the war in Ukraine, and he was adamant that the U.S. and its allies in Europe would not waver in their support for Ukraine.

“President Putin is confronted with something today he didn’t think was possible a year ago,” Biden said. “The democracies of the world have grown stronger, not weaker. But the autocracies of the world have grown weaker, not stronger.”

Biden at one point directly addressed Russian citizens, seeking to make clear that the United States and its allies do not seek to control or attack Russia.

“Millions of Russian citizens only want to live in peace with their neighbors are not the enemy. This war is never a necessity,” Biden said. “It’s a tragedy. President Putin chose this war.”

The president’s speech came hours after Putin himself delivered a speech announcing that Russia would suspend its participation in a nuclear arms treaty with the United States. 

Putin used his speech to attack the West, accusing the U.S. and European allies of worsening the conflict in Ukraine by providing military equipment and other support to Ukraine.

Tags Joe Biden Vladimir Putin

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