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"What miserable drones and traitors have I nurtured and promoted in my household who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric!" (Frank Barlow, Thomas Becket (University of California Press, 1990) at 235 (quoting Henry II harangue to his household staff about Thomas a Beckett and quoted from Edward Grim's Life of St. Thomas, who was present at Becket's murder).
"For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power" (Joseph Biden, Remarks Warsaw Poland 16 March 2022). . . . ["The White House later tried to clarify the statement, made in a speech in Poland, saying that the president was not calling for regime change, but meant that Vladimir Putin 'cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors.'”(NYT Ukraine Live Updates 26 March 2022)]
US President Biden delivered two spirited sets of remarks of note in his recent visit to Poland. That was as close as he was permitted to come to the front lines of a conflict among empires now being fought in Ukraine, and thus on the peripheries of empires beyond the heartland of the Chinese-Russian and liberal democratic empires. But it was close enough to make his points. The first was that within the imperial heartland there would be a direct and vigorous American defense--the borders of which were contained within NATO. The second was an indictment of the people and apparatus of state of Russia and the fortification of the ideological barriers, the border, that separates the liberal democratic from the Russian spheres. These, then, acquire a sacred dimension. In both cases the emphasis was on that divide that the borderlands of NATO now make physical: within the NATO heartland there would be an impulse to common defense; beyond that heartland, there would be great good wishes, discursive solidarity, and aid just shy of any threshold that might produce direct confrontation between empires.
And here at last we have clarity, one missing for weeks--around the roots of the American response to the Ukraine invasion. The Americans have found their ideological footing by time traveling back to 1968. Mr. Biden and his core of leadership adhere, it appears, to the old rules of U.S.-Soviet engagement. And ironically, that gives Mr. Putin something like what he has craved--but with a discursive slap: the recognition of the status of Russia as Soviet, but now as a "little Soviet" empire-state. Both provided a full throated discursive pyrotechnics of inclusion and exclusion in international law, and both drew the new borders of imperial primary spheres--leaving Ukraine in that ambiguous space that invited Russia to take it--if it could, and as long as it was willing to pay the price. It seems Mr. Putin, for as long as he remains, is still willing. It should be noted that the reference to empire here to to post-global empire, not to the obsolete forms of empire that passed effectively after 1945.Its is easy to dismiss empire when one references a form that is no longer either legitimated or effectively practiced and the analysis of which is principally historical. To project these old forms on the character of empires or imperial regions emerging on the collapse of globalization misses the great change in the forms and functions of empire (for discussion, see CPE EmpireSeries).
Twenty-five years ago, when I spoke at a university here in Warsaw, after having led the effort for Poland to join NATO, I used the phrase — and my Ambassador reminded me of this — I said — started off by saying, “For your freedom and for ours.” “For your freedom and for ours.” I meant it then, and I mean it now. (Ibid.)
The Russo-Ukraine War again highlights American map drawing in the 21stcentury ("I’m confident, agree with me — is that America’s ability to meet its role in other parts of the world rests upon a united Europe and a secure Europe."). The Polish President was carefully respectful--whether bears or eagles and whether fully fit or decrepit for the moment, it is never prudent to poke a superior force. But it is also one that remains wary of the way that borders in this part of the world can move and move fast.
But let me also stress, Mr. President: We are a serious partner. We are a credible ally. We do everything we can in order to live up to the task of defending our country ourselves. That is why we adopted a new bill, the Act on Defense of the Republic of Poland, and that is why as early as next year we will start to allocate 3 percent of our GDP on defense. That is why I want to, and we want to, increase those spendings also in the years to come.here for commentary).
But far more interesting, and meant to be so, was the second set of remarks--Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle delivered on the evening of 26 March 2022. It was an odd speech--if only measured by the distance between its discourse and the actions of the United States and its allies in Europe. Its lofty rhetoric and conveyances of solidarity were inversely proportional to the realities of the aid that the US has been willing to supply or to permit its allies to supply--directly (of course covert and indirect (private) aid remains very much in the picture but off the discursive table). Mr. Biden tells the world:
A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase a people's love for liberty. Brutality will never grind down their will to be free. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, for free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness. . . For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power. (Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle )
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It is in that context that one who hears the opening of the remarks--"Be not afraid." These were the first words that the first public address of the first Polish pope after his election in October of 1978, they were the words who would come to define Pope John Paul II. Words that would change the world" (Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle)--might indeed emerge more fearful in the face of the rhetorical density and the operational thinness of what follows. It is unclear whether Mr. Biden meant to draw a parallel between thew powerful religious rhetoric of John Paul II and those of the United States since the start pf 2022, or whether he suggests that rhetoric may be a powerful enough weapon to infuse people with the will to resist and to embrace martyrdom for a greater good that someone else will realize (with thanks and perhaps ceremony).
It does however tie in with the effort to re characterize the Russo-Ukrainian war in religious terms--and terminology. Mr. Biden in his Remarks by President Biden and President Andrzej Duda of Poland Before Expanded Bilateral Meeting emphasized the sacred nature of NATO's Article 5 obligations. He failed however, to remind his audience that the NATO magisterium in Brussels might interpret that sacred duty in quite different ways from that hoped for by those whose territory is being overrun. The sacral nature of Poland and its holy war against Soviet Leninism merges with this to deepen the impact not i this world but in that other that serves as a source of ultimate legitimization--certainly as expressed in the cultural discourse of the regional majority religion (Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle ).
But Ukraine remains a spectator sport in the battle for which it is possible to bet (through sanctions and aid).
Fighting to save their nation and their brave resistance is part of a larger fight for essential democratic principles that unite all free people. . . But they have always, they have always been under siege. They have always been embattled. Every generation has had to defeat democracy's moral foes. That's the way of the world, for the world is imperfect, as we know. Where the appetites and ambitions of a few forever seek to dominate the lives and liberty of many (Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle).
And thus the message to the Ukrainian people delivered personally by Mr. Biden--"We stand with you. Period!" (Ibid) --acquires a more nuanced meaning in this context. One stands with another, but certainly that does not mean that one intervenes, or serves as surety, or otherwise makes common cause. Solidarity is a discursive device first, and a structure within which carefully measured action may be tolerated. And here, Mr. Biden draws a connection--a critical one--with the American elite sense of relevant historical parallels. And that parallel is the way in which the United States chose to avoid interference in the Soviet Union's management of its empire in Europe.
Today's fighting in Kyiv and Melitopol and Kharkiv are the latest battle in a long struggle. Hungary, 1956. Poland, 1956, and then again, 1981. Czechoslovakia,1968. Soviet tanks crushed democratic uprisings, but the resistance continued until finally in 1989, the Berlin Wall and all the walls of Soviet domination, they fell. They fell! And the people prevailed (Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle).
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Here is where one sees revealed the instruction manual of American intervention. One might be inclined as a Pole, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, or citizen of the Baltic states to cringe here. At its limit, Mr. Biden, its seems, has embraced the Russian propaganda position that Ukraine "belongs" in some political-cultural way, or better that Russia can legitimately seek to exercise dominion over Ukraine in the way that the Soviets did with Warsaw pact states. And that while one can aid elements in those states to resist, it may a very very long time before that dominion can be effectively overcome--and then from inside. It may take thirty or so years but. . . From a Ukrainian perspective it appears to suggest that Ukraine, should it win, would then be embraced in the West. But not before except at the margins and with great good wishes for ultimate victory, if not now then at some future.
To date, the United States has sanctioned 140 Russian oligarchs and their family members, seizing their ill-begotten gains, their yachts, their luxury apartments, their mansions. We've sanctioned more than 400 Russian government officials, including key architects of this war. These officials and oligarchs have reaped enormous benefit from the corruption connected to the Kremlin. And now they have to share in the pain. The private sector has acted as well. Over 400 private multinational companies have pulled out of doing business in Russia. Left Russia completely. From oil companies to McDonald's. As a result of these unprecedented sanctions, the ruble almost is immediately reduced to rubble. The Russian economy -- that's true, by the way, it takes about 200 rubles to equal $1 (Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle).
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For Ukraine there is aid and moral support, as well as logistical support projected inward to Russia but managed from beyond Russian territory. For the rest there is an assurance--one that is made before the lawyers are asked to determine when, if ever, it is triggered: "The reason we want to make clear is their movement on Ukraine -- don't even think about moving on one single inch of NATO territory. We have sacred obligation. We have a sacred obligation under Article 5 to defend each and every inch of NATO territory with the full force of our collective power" (Mr. Biden's Speech delivered at Warsaw Castle).
The full text of Mr. Biden's Warsaw Castle Speech (ABC News transcript) and the Remarks by President Biden and President Andrzej Duda of Poland Before Expanded Bilateral Meeting follow below.
Read the full transcript of Biden's speech (with Thanks to ABC News):
"Be not afraid." These were the first words that the first public address of the first Polish pope after his election in October of 1978, they were the words who would come to define Pope John Paul II. Words that would change the world.
John Paul brought the message here to Warsaw in his first trip back home as pope in June of 1979. It was a message about the power, the power of faith, the power of resilience, the power of the people. In the face of a cruel and brutal system of government, it was a message that helped end the Soviet repression in the central land in Eastern Europe 30 years ago.
It was a message that we'll overcome the cruelty and brutality of this unjust war. When Pope John Paul brought that message in 1979, the Soviet Union ruled with an iron fist behind an Iron Curtain. Then a year later, the solidarity movement took hold in Poland. While I know he couldn't be here tonight, we're all grateful in America and around the world for Lech Walesa. [Applause] It reminds me of that phrase from the philosopher Kierkegaard, "Faith sees best in the dark." And they were dark moments.
Ten years later, the Soviet Union collapsed and Poland and Central and Eastern Europe would soon be free. Nothing about that battle for freedom was simple or easy. It was a long, painful slog. Fought over not days and months but years and decades. But we emerged anew in the great battle for freedom. A battle between democracy and autocracy. Between liberty and repression. Between a rules-based order and one governed by brute force. In this battle, we need to be clear-eyed. This battle will not be won in days or months either. We need to steel ourselves of a long fight ahead.Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Mayor, members of the parliament, distinguished guests, and the people of Poland, and I suspect some people of Ukraine that are here. We are [applause], we are gathered here at the royal castle in this city that holds the sacred place in the history of not only of Europe but human kind's unending search for freedom.
For generations, Warsaw has stood where liberty has been challenged and liberty has prevailed. In fact, it was here in Warsaw when a young refugee who fled her home country from Czechoslovakia was under Soviet domination, came back to speak and stand in solidarity with dissidence. Her name was Madeleine Korbel Albright. She became one of the most ardent supporters of democracy in the world. She was a friend with whom I served. America's first woman Secretary of State.
She passed away three days ago. She fought her whole life for central democratic principles. And now in the perennial struggle for democracy and freedom, Ukraine and its people are in 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. The freedom of the press. These principles are essential in a free society. [Applause]
But they have always, they have always been under siege. They have always been embattled. Every generation has had to defeat democracy's moral foes. That's the way of the world, for the world is imperfect, as we know. Where the appetites and ambitions of a few forever seek to dominate the lives and liberty of many.
My message to the people of Ukraine is a message I delivered today to Ukraine's foreign minister and defense minister, who I believe are here tonight. We stand with you. Period! [Applause]
Today's fighting in Kyiv and Melitopol and Kharkiv are the latest battle in a long struggle. Hungary, 1956. Poland, 1956, and then again, 1981. Czechoslovakia,1968. Soviet tanks crushed democratic uprisings, but the resistance continued until finally in 1989, the Berlin Wall and all the walls of Soviet domination, they fell. They fell! And the people prevailed.
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. Its 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 his homeland. Under false claims of ethnic solidarity, there's invalidated neighboring nations. Putin has the gall to say he's 'denazifying' Ukraine. It's a lie. It's just cynical, he knows that and it's also obscene.
President Zelenskyy was democratically elected. He's Jewish. His father's family was wiped out in the Nazi Holocaust. And Putin has the audacity, like all autocrats before him, to believe that might will make right.
In my own country, a former president named Abraham Lincoln voiced the opposing spirit to save our union in the midst of the Civil War. He said let us have faith that right makes might. Right makes might. Today, let us have that faith again. [Applause] Let us resolve to put the strength of democracies into action to thwart the designs of autocracy.
Let us remember that the test of this moment is the test of all time. A criminal wants to portray NATO enlargement as an imperial project aimed at destabilizing Russia. Nothing is further from the truth. NATO is a defensive alliance. It has never sought the demise of Russia. In the lead up to the current crisis, the United States and NATO worked for months to engage Russia to avert war. I met with him in person, talked to him many times on the phone.
Time and again, we offered real diplomacy and concrete proposals to strengthen European security, enhance transparency, build confidence on all sides. But Putin and Russia met each of the proposals with disinterest in any negotiation, with lies and ultimatums.
Russia was bent on violence from the start. I know not all of you believed me and us when we kept saying, they are going to cross the border, they are going to attack. Repeatedly he asserted we had no interest in war, guaranteed he would not move. Repeatedly saying he would not invade Ukraine. Repeatedly saying Russian troops along the border were there for training. All 180,000 of them.
There's simply no justification or provocation for Russia's choice of war. It's an example, one of the oldest human impulses, using brute force and disinformation to satisfy a craving for absolute power and control. It's nothing less than a direct challenge to the rule-based international order established since the end of World War II. And it threatens to return to decades of war that ravaged Europe before the international rule-based order was put in place.
We cannot go back to that. We cannot. The gravity of the threat is why the response of the West has been so swift and so powerful and so unified, unprecedented and overwhelming. Swift and punishing costs are the only thing that are going to get Russia to change its course.
Within days of his invasion, the West has moved jointly with sanctions to damage Russia's economy. Russia's Central Bank is now blocked from global financial systems, denying Kremlin's access to the war fund that's stashed around the globe. We have aimed at the heart of Russia's economy by stopping the imports of Russian energy to the United States.
To date, the United States has sanctioned 140 Russian oligarchs and their family members, seizing their ill-begotten gains, their yachts, their luxury apartments, their mansions. We've sanctioned more than 400 Russian government officials, including key architects of this war. These officials and oligarchs have reaped enormous benefit from the corruption connected to the Kremlin. And now they have to share in the pain.
The private sector has acted as well. Over 400 private multinational companies have pulled out of doing business in Russia. Left Russia completely. From oil companies to McDonald's. As a result of these unprecedented sanctions, the ruble almost is immediately reduced to rubble. The Russian economy -- that's true, by the way, it takes about 200 rubles to equal $1.
The economy is on track to be cut in half in the coming years. It was ranked, Russia's economy was ranked the 11th biggest economy in the world before this invasion. It will soon not even rank among the top 20 in the world.
Taken together [applause] these economic sanctions, a new kind of economic statecraft with the power to inflict damage that rivals military might. These international sanctions are sapping Russian strength, its ability to replenish its military, and its ability to project power. And it's Putin, it is Vladimir Putin who is to blame. Period.
At the same time, alongside these economic sanctions, the Western world has come together to provide for the people of Ukraine with incredible levels of military, economic, humanitarian assistance.
In the years before the invasion, we, America, had sent over $650 million, before they crossed the border, in weapons to Ukraine, including anti-air and anti-armor equipment. Since the invasion, America has committed another $1.35 billion in weapons and ammunition. And thanks to the courage and bravery of the Ukrainian people, the equipment we've sent and our colleagues have sent have been used to devastating effect to defend Ukrainian land and air space.
Our allies and partners have stepped up as well. But as I've made clear, American forces are in Europe -- not in Europe to engage in conflict with Russian forces. American forces are here to defend NATO allies. Yesterday I met with the troops that are serving alongside our Polish allies to bolster NATO's front line defenses. The reason we want to make clear is their movement on Ukraine -- don't even think about moving on one single inch of NATO territory. We have sacred obligation. We have a sacred obligation under Article 5 to defend each and every inch of NATO territory with the full force of our collective power.
And earlier today I visited your national stadium, where thousands of Ukrainian refugees are now trying to answer the toughest questions a human can ask. My God, what is going to happen to me? What is going to happen to my family? I saw tears in many of the mothers' eyes as I embraced them. Their young children, their young children, not sure whether to smile or cry.
One little girl said, Mr. President -- she spoke a little English -- is my brother and my daddy, are they going to be okay? Will I see them again? Without their husbands, their fathers. In many cases, their brothers and sisters have stayed back to fight for their country.
I didn't have to speak the language or understand the language to feel the emotion in their eyes, the way they gripped my hand, little kids hung on to my leg, praying with a desperate hope that all this is temporary. Apprehension that they may be perhaps forever away from their homes. Almost a debilitating sadness that this is happening all over again.
But I was also struck by the generosity of the people of Warsaw -- for that matter, all the Polish people -- for the depths of their compassion, their willingness to reach out [applause], for opening their hearts. I was saying to the mayor, they were opening their hearts and their homes simply to help.
I also want to thank my friend, the great American chef Jose Andres, and his team for help feeding those who are yearning to be free. But helping these refugees is not something Poland or any other nation should carry alone. All the world's democracies have a responsibility to help. All of them. And the people of Ukraine can count on the United States to meet its responsibility. I have announced two days ago, we will welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. We already have 8,000 a week coming to the United States of other nationalities. We will provide nearly $300 million of humanitarian assistance, providing tens of thousands of tons of food, water, medicine and other basic supplies.
In Brussels, I announced the United States is prepared to provide more than $1 billion in additional humanitarian aid. The World Food Programme told us that despite significant obstacles, at least some relief is getting to major cities in Ukraine. But not Metripol -- no, excuse me -- not Mariupol because Russian forces are blocking relief supplies.
But we'll not cease our efforts to get humanitarian relief wherever it is needed in Ukraine and for the people who've made it out of Ukraine. Notwithstanding the brutality of Vladimir Putin, let there be no doubt that this war has already been a strategic failure for Russia already. 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. Not much of a student of history. Instead Russian forces have met their match with brave and stiff Ukrainian resistance. Rather than breaking Ukrainian resolve, Russia's brutal tactics have strengthened the resolve. Rather than driving NATO apart, the West is now stronger and more united than it's ever been.
Russia wanted less of a NATO presence on its border but now he has a stronger presence, a larger presence with over 100,000 American troops here along with all the other members of NATO. In fact, Russia has managed to cause something I'm sure he never intended. The democracies of the world are revitalized with purpose and unity found in months that we've once taken years to accomplish.
It's not only Russia's actions in Ukraine that are reminding us of democracy's blessing. It's our own country, his own country, the Kremlin, it's jailing protesters. Two hundred thousand people who have allegedly already left. There's a brain drain leaving Russia. Shutting down independent news. State media is all propaganda. Blocking the image of civilian targets, mass graves, starvation tactics of the Russian forces in Ukraine.
Is it any wonder as I said that 200,000 Russians have all left their country in one month. A remarkable brain drain in such a short period of time. Which brings me to my message to the Russian people. I worked with Russian leaders for decades. I sat across the negotiating table going all the way back to Soviet Alexei Kosygin to talk arms control at the height of the Cold War. I've always spoken directly and honestly to you, the Russian people. Let me say this, if you're able to listen. You, the Russian people, are not our enemy. I refuse to believe that you welcome the killing of innocent children and grandparents, or that you accept hospitals, schools, maternity wards and for God sake's being pummeled with Russian missiles and bombs. Or cities being surrounded so that civilians cannot flee. Supplies cut off and attempting to starve Ukrainians into submission.
Millions of families are being driven from their homes, including half of all Ukraine's children. These are not the actions of a great nation. Of all people, you, the Russian people, as well as all people across Europe still have the memory of being in a similar situation in the late '30s and '40s. Situation in World War II still fresh in the minds of many grandparents in the region. Whatever your generation experienced, whether it experienced the siege of Leningrad or heard about it from your parents and grandparents. Train stations overflowing with terrified families fleeing their homes. Nights sheltering in basements and cellars. Mornings sifting through the rubble in your homes. These are not memories of the past. Not anymore. Because it's exactly what the Russian army is doing in Ukraine right now.
March 26, 2022, just days before we're at the 21 -- you were a 21st century nation, with hopes and dreams that people all over the world have for themselves and their family. Now, Vladimir Putin's aggression have cut you, the Russian people, off from the rest of the world, and it's taking Russia back to the 19th century. This is not who you are. This is not the future you deserve for your families and your children. I'm telling you the truth, this war is not worthy of you, the Russian people. Putin can and must end this war. The American people will stand with you, and the brave citizens of Ukraine who want peace.
My message to the rest of Europe, this new battle for freedom has already made a few things crystal clear. First, Europe must end its dependence on Russian fossil fuels. And we, the United States will help. [Applause] That's why just yesterday in Brussels I announced the plan with the president of the European Commission to get Europe through the immediate energy crisis. Over the long-term, as a matter of economic security and national security and for the survivability of the planet, we all need to move as quickly as possible to clean, renewable energy. And we'll work together to help to get that done so that the days of any nation being subject to the whims of a tyrant for its energy needs are over. They must end. They must end.
And second, we have to fight the corruption coming from the Kremlin to give the Russian people a fair chance. And finally, most urgently, we maintain absolute unity, we must, among the world's democracies. It's not enough to speak with rhetorical flourish of ennobling words of democracy, of freedom, of quality, and liberty. All of us, including here in Poland, must do the hard work of democracy each and every day -- my country as well. That's why [applause], that's why I came to Europe again this week with a clear and determined message for NATO, for the G7, for the European Union, for all freedom-loving nations -- we must commit now to be in this fight for the long haul. We must remain unified today and tomorrow and the day after. And for the years and decades to come. It will not be easy. There will be costs. But it is a price we have to pay because the darkness that drives autocracy is ultimately no match for the flame of liberty that lights the souls of free people everywhere.
Time and again history shows that. It's from the darkness moments that the greatest progress follows. And history shows this is the task of our time, the task of this generation. Let's remember the hammer blow that brought down the Berlin Wall, the might that lifted the Iron Curtain were not the words of a single leader, it was the people of Europe, who for decades fought to free themselves. Their sheer bravery opened the border between Austria and Hungary for the Pan-European Picnic. They joined hands for the Baltic Way. They stood for solidarity here in Poland. And together it was an unmistakable and undeniable force of the people that the Soviet Union could not withstand. And we're seeing it once again today for the brave Ukrainian people showing that their power of many is greater than the will of any one dictator.
So in this hour, let the words of Pope John Paul burn as brightly today. Never ever give up hope. Never doubt. Never tire. Never become discouraged. Be not afraid! [Applause]
A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase a people's love for liberty. Brutality will never grind down their will to be free. 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, a brighter future, rooted in democracy and principle, hope and light. Of decency and dignity and freedom and possibilities. For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power. God bless you all. And may God defend our freedom, and may God protect our troops. [Applause] Thank you for your patience. Thank you. Thank you.
1:44 P.M. CET
PRESIDENT DUDA: Excellency Mr. President, distinguished members of the American delegation: I am delighted, and it is an immensely important moment to us to host you here, Mr. President, the President of the United States of America, along with the members of your delegation — to host you here in Poland, in Warsaw, in this time so immensely important for the whole world. Thank you so much.
That — this presence shows in such an excellent way, but also strengthens the fact of extremely strong Euro-Atlantic ties. It also demonstrates the unity of the North Atlantic Alliance and the traditional cooperation in the military sphere, in the economic sphere, and also in the political sphere between the United States of America and Poland.
Thank you, Mr. President. We are grateful for your yesterday’s visit to Rzeszów, which is of extremely symbolic character to all of us. But it is also of key importance for all of those who are helping and assisting refugees from Ukraine on a daily basis.
Poles, guests from other countries, our volunteers, foreign volunteers — they are dedicating themselves; they are sacrificing their time, offering all the means and measures in order to help people.
So, thank you, Mr. President, so much for paying that visit yesterday. It is hugely important.
And also, thank you for all the help and assistance provided by the United States. Thank you for the contribution of the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Jill Biden. Thank you for her consultations with my wife, for the assistance, and for an excellent atmosphere that you, Mr. President, and your wife create for all our matters in the United States. My wife recently visited New York, and she felt that great atmosphere. So, thank you so much.
But let me stress — and very strongly, Mr. President — that although times are very difficult, today, Polish-American relations are flourishing.
We are the first, the biggest customer buying American LNG gas. We have received LNG gas for many years. Our gas terminal in Świnoujście, it helps us to diversify our gas resources in Poland. It is hugely important, given today’s Russia’s aggression Ukraine, given this energy blackmail which Russia has pursued for many years right now. We have built that LNG terminal in Świnoujście precisely to fight this blackmail, to avoid this blackmail. And we are thankful for U.S. support in this respect.
Furthermore, we are grateful for continuing on this path. We started a program on civil nuclear energy — the construction of U.S. nuclear power plants in Poland, which are indispensable to us to protect the climate and to develop a modern energy sector in our country.
I strongly believe that this partnership that we have between the United States and Poland in the development of nuclear energy in our country, in close cooperation between our two states, will be implemented and finalized.
I have here with me Minister Piotr Naimski who is responsible on the Polish side for this program. And I do believe that along with American companies, but under a strong patronage of the White House, we will be able to successfully implement in the near future, because Poland badly needs it.
Mr. President, we have very good economic relations. We have got — in 2021, according to our estimates, we had more than 18 billion U.S. dollars of trade volume, despite the coronavirus pandemic, despite other obstacles that were in the way. This, it makes us really pleased. We’re happy with all the U.S. investments in Poland. We are happy to welcome them here, just as we are happy to welcome U.S. soldiers who are coming up to us in order to strengthen the eastern flank. We are grateful for this help.
But let me also stress, Mr. President: We are a serious partner. We are a credible ally. We do everything we can in order to live up to the task of defending our country ourselves. That is why we adopted a new bill, the Act on Defense of the Republic of Poland, and that is why as early as next year we will start to allocate 3 percent of our GDP on defense. That is why I want to, and we want to, increase those spendings also in the years to come.
We want to equip our armed forces with modern equipment, and that is why, in the future, we want — we intend to buy well-tested and modern military equipment that is produced in the United States of America.
But, of course, we would be very much interested in establishing a cooperation with the United States in this respect. And we are delighted with every element of this cooperation that is developing, such as the possibility to co-produce, in Poland, Black Hawks. And right now, we would like to have more forms of such cooperation also in the military sphere.
So, Mr. President, all the bonds that I mentioned, all of that is strengthened immensely by your visit, Mr. President, and we’re so much grateful for that.
This is also important for the representatives of the U.S. business circles. Wherever you can, Mr. President, they feel that this place is safe and secure. So, Mr. President, we are so much grateful for your visit.
But let me stress one thing, sir: This is a very difficult situation, what is happening in Ukraine right now — this Russian aggression and this huge tragedy of the Ukrainian people. All of us, together, are experiencing it with them. And this also creates a great sense of threat for my compatriots, for the Polish people, because we know what Russian imperialism stands for, and we know what it means to be attacked by Russian armed forces, because our grandfathers and great-grandfathers experienced that; sometimes even our parents experienced that.
So, thank you for your presence. And thank you, first and foremost, for your incredible leadership, strong leadership. Thank you for this very strong voice of the United States which leads us and which very resolutely calls on Russia to stop its aggression against Ukraine.
We stand with the United States. And along with the United States, we want to pursue this policy. And we very much hope for decisive and strong leadership of the United States across the entire NATO.
And also, we hope that we will further strengthen the Euro-Atlantic bond. Thank you, Mr. President, once again for your presence.
PRESIDENT BIDEN: Mr. President, thank you very much. Twenty-five years ago, when I spoke at a university here in Warsaw, after having led the effort for Poland to join NATO, I used the phrase — and my Ambassador reminded me of this — I said — started off by saying, “For your freedom and for ours.” “For your freedom and for ours.” I meant it then, and I mean it now.
You know, Mr. President, we have — the most important thing that binds us together are our values: freedom — freedom of the press; making sure that people are — that government is transparent; making sure people have the right to vote, et cetera.
And I — we had a very — and I hope we haven’t kept you waiting. It’s good to be back in this room again, but I hope we didn’t keep you waiting too long. But we were discussing a lot of things in private, not the least of which was that, as I pointed out — and my colleagues, I’m confident, agree with me — is that America’s ability to meet its role in other parts of the world rests upon a united Europe and a secure Europe.
We have learned from sad experience in two world wars: When we’ve stayed out of and not been involved in stability in Europe, it always comes back to haunt us, the United States.
So I’ve been saying for a long time — as a senator who visited here and a member the Foreign Relations Committee, as Vice President for eight years, now as President — that stability in Europe is critically important to the United States in terms of our interest not only in Europe, but around the world.
And so, what we talked about is the need for us to stay in constant contact and know what one another are doing. The United States and my colleagues on this side of the table heard me say it many, many times: We take Article 5 as a sacred commitment, not a throwaway — a sacred commitment that relates to every member of NATO.
One of the things that I thanked the President for downstairs was the fact that the single-most important criterion in this time of a changing world — so much has changed, and not just here but in other parts of the world — is that NATO stay absolutely, completely, thoroughly united; that there be no separation in our points of view; that whatever we do, we do in unison; and everyone — everyone comes along.
I’m confident that Vladimir Putin was counting on being able to divide NATO, to be able to separate the eastern flank from the West, be able to separate nations based on past histories. But he hasn’t been able to do it. We’ve all stayed together. And — and so, I just think it’s so important that we — Poland and the United States — keep in lockstep in how we’re proceeding.
And also, we do acknowledge that Poland is taking on a significant responsibility that I don’t think should just be Poland, it should be the whole world — all of NATO’s responsibility.
The fact that you have so many — so many Ukrainians seeking refuge in the — in this country of Poland, we understand that because we have, in our southern border, thousands of people a day — literally, not figuratively — trying to get into the United States. But we believe that we, the United States, should do our part, relative to Ukraine as well, by opening our borders to another hundred thousand people.
And — but that’s — and in addition to that, I think it’s important that we are in constant contact as about how we each wish to proceed, relative to what Russia is doing, and how to proceed.
And so, I — I just want to thank you, Mr. President, for being available, for being so cooperative, for being — and letting us know exactly what’s on your mind. It’s on the mind of the Polish people — what their concerns are and what they think our responsibilities are.
But I’ll end where I began, and that is: We take as a sacred obligation Article 5 — a sacred obligation, Article 5. And you can count on that. And not just — I’ll end where I began: for your freedom is ours.
So, thank you very much.
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