US President Joe Biden spoke with top Ukrainian government officials in Warsaw on Saturday, and branded Russian President Vladimir Putin a “butcher” during a meeting with refugees who have fled the war in Ukraine to the Polish capital.
On the second day of a visit to Poland, Biden dropped in on a meeting between Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Ukraine had received additional security pledges from the US on developing defense co-operation, Kuleba told reporters, while Reznikov expressed “cautious optimism” following the meeting with Biden.
“President Biden said what is happening in Ukraine will change the history of the 21st century, and we will work together to ensure that this change is in our favor, in Ukraine’s favour, in the favor of the democratic world,” Kuleba told Ukrainian national television
After a separate meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda, Biden reiterated Washington’s “sacred” commitment to security guarantees within NATO, of which Poland is a member.
Ukraine is not a member of the Western military alliance, and the US is wary of getting dragged into direct confrontation with Russia, but Washington has pledged to defend every inch of NATO territory.
In Warsaw, Biden also visited a refugee reception center at the national stadium. People, some waving Ukrainian flags, lined the streets as his motorcade wound its way towards the stadium.
After being greeted by celebrity chef Jose Andres, Biden talked to refugees who had gathered to receive food from the World Central Kitchen NGO, asking their names and hometowns and posing for pictures with some.
More than two million people have fled the war to Poland.
Altogether, about 3.8 million who have left Ukraine since fighting began on February 24.
Asked about the impact that Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine had had on the Ukrainian people, Biden said the Russian leader was a “butcher.”
Russia’s TASS news agency quoted a Kremlin spokesman as saying Biden’s latest comments about Putin narrowed the prospects for mending ties between the two countries.
Putin calls Russia’s military actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” the country. Russia denies targeting civilians.