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Biden vows steadfast support for Ukraine as war enters second year

President Joe Biden is visiting Europe and deepening American support for Ukraine, as the Russian-Ukrainian war rages on with no end in sight to the fighting.

(CN) — On the eve of the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of its southern neighbor, U.S. President Joe Biden deepened American support for Ukraine with a surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday and new vows to defeat Russia.

Biden kicked off his trip to Europe with an unannounced journey by train on Monday from Poland to Kyiv, where he walked with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy through the heart of the Ukrainian capital.

By going to Kyiv, Biden underscored his administration's commitment to continue pouring weapons and aid into Ukraine with the goal of scoring a decisive military victory against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biden then delivered a speech Tuesday evening in Warsaw in which he condemned Putin as a craven autocrat bent on imperial conquest while accusing Russia of committing crimes against humanity.

But he mainly used his speech to vow steadfast support for Ukraine, pledge more military aid for Kyiv and promise new sanctions against Russia.

“Our support for Ukraine will not waver, NATO will not be divided and we will not tire,” Biden said.

The war in Ukraine had strengthened the West and shown Putin's weakness, the president said.

“He thought autocrats like himself were tough and leaders of democracy were soft and then he met the iron will of America and the nations everywhere that refuse to accept a world governed by fear and force,” Biden said. “He found himself at war with a nation led by a man whose courage would be forged in fire and steel – President Zelenskyy.”

Calling on Western leaders to remain steadfast in their support for Ukraine, he defined the war as a fight between democracy and autocracy.

“That's what's at stake here: freedom,” he said. “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, never.”

His Warsaw speech came on the eve of the first anniversary since Putin launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, and upended the international order.

In Kyiv, Biden recalled speaking to Zelenskyy late at night in Washington following the early morning start of the invasion.

“That dark night, one year ago, the world was literally, at the time, bracing for the fall of Kyiv – it seems like a lot longer ago than a year, but think back to that year – perhaps even the end of Ukraine,” Biden said.

“You know, one year later, Kyiv stands and Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,” he said. “The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you.”

The war in Ukraine shows no sign of ending any time soon as both sides continue to pound each other on the battlefield. Tens of thousands of soldiers have been killed on each side. The number of casualties suffered by each army remains unknown, but the war has taken a terrible toll. Meanwhile, the United Nations human rights agency has recorded 8,006 civilian deaths and nearly 13,300 wounded civilians.

In recent months, Russia has made slow advances in Donbas, the eastern region of Ukraine that Putin is seeking to annex, though Ukrainian defenses have so far withstood a major collapse. Both sides are expected to launch new offensives as the war builds to what many military experts believe will be a new bloody climax in the fighting.

The United States and its NATO allies have poured about 128 billion euros (about $136 billion) into Ukraine in the past year and gradually increased the supply of lethal weapons, according to data tracked by Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German think tank.

On Tuesday, Putin delivered a speech too in which he blamed the West for starting the war and seeking to destabilize Russia. In his speech to Russia's Federal Assembly, Putin vowed Russia would win in Ukraine and he announced his country would suspend its participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with the U.S., the last remaining major nuclear arms treaty with Washington.

Courthouse News reporter Cain Burdeau is based in the European Union.

Categories: Government International Politics

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