President Joe Biden went to Europe this week, where he’s confronted the violence perpetrated by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invading forces in Ukraine head-on. Asked in Warsaw about his perspective on Putin in the context of “what he’s done to these people,” Biden commented: “He’s a butcher.” Biden also spent time with some of the millions of refugees who have fled Ukraine amid the unfolding violence, saying afterwards that he’s “always surprised by the depth and strength of the human [spirit], I mean it sincerely… They are an amazing group of people.” A Biden Twitter post added about the visit with refugees that you “don’t need to speak the same language to feel the roller-coaster of emotions in their eyes.”
President Biden: "Putin has the gall to say he's denazifying Ukraine. It's a lie."
"It's also obscene."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 26, 2022
In Warsaw, Biden delivered a rousing public address on Saturday. As he explained the situation:
‘Now, in the perennial struggle for democracy and freedom, Ukraine and its people are on the front lines, fighting to save their nation. And their brave resistance is part of a larger fight for essential democratic principles that unite all free people: the rule of law; fair and free elections; the freedom to speak, to write, and to assemble; the freedom to worship as one chooses; freedom of the press. These principles are essential in a free society, but they have always been under siege. They have always been embattled. Every generation has had to defeat democracy’s moral foes… My message to the people of Ukraine… [is] we stand with you. Period.’
President Biden: "Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia. For free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness. We will have a different future."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 26, 2022
Biden recounted details of past Soviet efforts to undercut pushes for democracy, adding:
‘But the battle for democracy could not conclude and did not conclude with the end of the Cold War. Over the last 30 years, the forces of autocracy have revived all across the globe. It’s hallmarks are familiar ones: contempt for the rule of law, contempt for democratic freedom, contempt for the truth itself. Today, Russia has strangled democracy and sought to do so elsewhere, not only in its homeland… Putin has the audacity like all autocrats before him to believe that might will make right… Let us resolve to put the strength of democracies into action to thwart the designs of autocracy… There’s simply no justification or provocation for Russia’s choice of war… It’s nothing less than a direct challenge to the rules-based international order established since the end of World War II.’
Biden also rebuffed specific propaganda from Putin and his regime, including the lies that the war in Ukraine is angled towards “de-Nazifying” Ukraine and that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an existential threat to Russia. Biden also touted economic sanctions that those on Ukraine’s side have rolled out in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Hundreds upon hundreds of targets inside Russia have been hit with sanctions, and Russia’s central bank has been sharply restricted from international operations, with the value of Russian currency plummeting. Meanwhile, the president also discussed the security assistance that the U.S. has provided to Ukraine — and spoke of the “sacred obligation” held by the United States to participate in the defense of “each and every inch” of NATO members’ territory. And Biden characterized Putin’s affronts against Ukraine as a strategic failure for the Russians, adding:
‘Notwithstanding the brutality of Vladimir Putin, let there be no doubt that this war has already been a strategic failure for Russia. Having lost children myself, I know that’s no solace to the people who’ve lost family. But he, Putin, thought Ukrainians would roll over and not fight… Instead, Russian forces have met their match with brave and stiff Ukrainian resistance. Rather than breaking Ukrainian resolve, Russia’s brutal tactics have strengthened their resolve. Rather than driving NATO apart, the West is now stronger and more united than it has ever been… In fact, Russia has managed to cause something I’m sure [Putin] never intended: the democracies of the world are revitalized with purpose and unity found in months that would have once taken years to accomplish.’
Recently, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken formally stated that the U.S. believes Russian forces to be guilty of war crimes in Ukraine, where civilians have been under Russian attacks throughout the course of the conflict. “We’ve seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities. Russia’s forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded. Many of the sites Russia’s forces have hit have been clearly identifiable as in-use by civilians,” as Blinken explained it. Although it’s not alone in this regard, the Ukrainian city of Mariupol has been a site of particular concern amid the war. The city’s population originally numbered in the hundreds of thousands — and Russian attacks there have been devastating. The news recently emerged that some 300 people were believed to have died in a strike on a theater that was in use as a shelter. The Russian word for “children” was written in large letters on the ground outside in an attempt to keep it from getting struck.
Russian bombardment of #Mariupol drama theater on March 16 killed around 300 people, witnesses say – Mariupol City Council
— Anastasiia Lapatina (@lapatina_) March 25, 2022