President Biden on Tuesday declared that Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia in a speech from Warsaw in which he marked one year since the start of the war.
“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. 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,” he said. “And, Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, never.”
Biden’s speech came a day after he made a surprise visit to Ukraine, during which he made a historic stop in the war-torn capital city of Kyiv.
“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.
One year later since the start of the Kremlin’s invasion, Biden said, “Ukraine is still independent and free.”
“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.”
Biden’s speech at the Royal Castle complex in Warsaw was also where the president delivered remarks in March 2022 that marked one month into the invasion of Ukraine.
“All that we do now must be done so our children and grandchildren will know it as well, freedom. The enemy of the tyrant, and the hope and the brave and the truth of the ages, freedom. Stand with us, we’ll stand with you. Let us move forward with faith and conviction and the abiding commitment to be allied, yes, of freedom,” Biden said
He also took the opportunity to go after Russian President Vladimir Putin in his remarks, declaring him a dictator and autocrat who thought that NATO wouldn’t respond when he first rolled tanks into Ukraine.
“He found himself at war with a nation led by a man whose courage would be forged in fire and steel, President Zelensky.” Biden said, referring to the Ukrainian president. “President Putin is confronted with something today that you didn’t think was possible a year ago. The democracies of the world have grown stronger, not weaker. But the autocrats of the world have grown weaker, not stronger.”
Biden stressed that the U.S. support for Ukraine will not waver — a claim that comes as polls show that American public support for Ukraine is slowly eroding.
“That’s what Americans are and that’s what Americans do,” he said.
“Democracies of the world will stand guard over freedom today, tomorrow, and forever,” he added. “That’s what’s at stake here, freedom.”
In attendance for Biden’s major speech were Polish citizens, Ukrainian refugees, embassy staff and children, elected officials of Poland, government and military leaders, and White House staff. Polish President Andrzej Duda, who Biden met with earlier on Tuesday, spoke before him.
Biden’s remarks in Warsaw last year were marked by the president declaring, “this man cannot remain in power” about Putin. The crux of his speech last year though was that the U.S. will support Ukraine for the “long haul.”
Biden on Tuesday reiterated that point, stressing that the U.S. and its allies still stand with Ukraine.
He said that all democracies were being tested when Russia invaded, but noted that only four countries in the United Nations sided with Russia in a vote in October while 143 voted to condemn the war.
“The questions we face were as simple as they were a profound, would we respond? Or would we look the other way?” Biden said. “One year later, we know the answer. We did respond, we would be strong, we would be united, and the world would not look the other way.”
Updated at 12:27 p.m.