Biden calls for end of power by Russia’s Putin in speech on Ukraine. With the war in Ukraine at a critical juncture, President Biden on Saturday used the capital of a country once dominated by the Soviet Union to demand an end to the rule of Russian President Vladimir Putin and to exhort U.S. allies to stand up to Russia’s brutal invasion of its neighbor.
“The test of this moment is a test of all time,” Biden said in what was designed as a rousing speech for unity uttered at a Polish castle destroyed by Nazis in World War II — and later rebuilt.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said of Putin — a dramatic final flourish to what the White House called a major speech and a first public reference to regime change to unseat the man he has called a killer and a war criminal.
“All of us must do the hard work of democracy each and every day,” Biden said, “in Europe and in my country as well.”
He opened his speech by invoking the late Pope John Paul II, a Pole, whose “Be not afraid” speech in Warsaw in 1979 inspired Poland to eventually break away from Communist rule.
Throughout his visit to Europe, Biden has emphasized the “sacred obligation” the U.S. and its NATO allies have to protect Poland and other member states if Russia spreads its attacks into the eastern flanks of NATO territory.
Mutual defense of North Atlantic Treaty Organization partners “is a sacred obligation,” Biden repeatedly assured President Andrzej Duda as the pair met in Warsaw, crucial “for your freedom and ours.”
Later, Biden got a firsthand glimpse of the war’s toll on Poland. Meeting with Ukrainian refugees near the train station in Warsaw, he said he admired their spirit and resilience and branded Putin a “butcher.” Millions of Ukrainians have fled across Europe or been displaced inside their country since Putin launched the invasion Feb. 24.
Russia on Friday announced the “first phase” of its military assault had ended successfully, saying its forces would now concentrate on its main goal, consolidating control of occupied parts of eastern Ukraine. This might represent a scaling down of operations in the face of a failure to advance on key cities — or it may be another feint by Putin to confuse his adversaries.
As Biden visited Poland, a fresh volley of explosions was heard on the outskirts of Lviv, in western Ukraine and just miles from the border with Poland. Black smoke billowed on the horizon. Ukrainian authorities said a Russian missile attack hit a fuel storage facility. Though the third attack in the vicinity of once-safe Lviv, it was the first close to the city’s population.
Earlier, Biden joined U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at a session in a Warsaw hotel with top Ukrainian officials —Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, and Oleksii Reznikov, the country’s defense minister.
Poland, a NATO ally of the United States, shares a lengthy border with Ukraine and has been both the major destination of Ukrainian refugees and an essential corridor for aid — including military assistance — headed into Ukraine.
There is deep anxiety in Poland, seat of the Warsaw Pact during Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, that the war could spread into its territory.
But Washington, fearing a wider war with Russia, has not embraced Polish suggestions that an international peacekeeping force be deployed to Ukraine. And the Biden administration has also rejected outright a Polish proposal that Polish MiG-29 fighters be transferred to Ukraine via a U.S. airbase in Germany.
Poland has also urged that Washington expedite procedures to accept refugees from Ukraine with families in the United States. The Biden administration now says it will open doors to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.
Biden and Duda and their delegations met for several hours, discussing the war and the refugee crisis, which has seen some 3.7 million Ukrainians flee the country, an exodus that continues daily and is considered the largest refugee influx in Europe since World War II.
The trip to the Polish capital came a day after Biden visited U.S. forces in the eastern Polish city of Rzeszow, some 45 miles west of the Ukrainian border. Washington has bolstered its forces in Eastern Europe in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In his comments to troops, Biden talked of a global struggle between democracies and autocratic forces.
The push by Republicans to conduct partisan ballot reviews similar to the one that unfolded last year in Arizona has spread beyond the battleground states where former President Trump disputed his loss, an effort that has had mixed legislative success but has sown doubts about whether future elections can be trusted.
While most of the bills are unlikely to become law, the debates and public hearings in GOP-controlled state legislative chambers have added fuel to the false claims that widespread fraud cost Trump reelection in 2020.
“They’re really tearing down democracy, and they don’t think they are,” said Scott McDonell, the election clerk in Dane County, Wisconsin, home to the state capital.
The proposals come after flawed Republican-ordered reviews in Arizona and Wisconsin where GOP lawmakers gave the job of examining the previous election to partisan actors.
Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers refused to allow dozens of women to board several flights, including some overseas, because they were traveling without a male guardian, two Afghan airline officials said Saturday.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions from the Taliban, said dozens of women who arrived at Kabul’s international airport Friday to board domestic and international flights were told they couldn’t do so without a male guardian.
Some of the women were dual nationals returning to their homes overseas, including some from Canada, according to one of the officials. Women were denied boarding on flights to Islamabad, Pakistan; Dubai; and Turkey on Kam Air and the state-owned Ariana Airline, said the officials.