Biden calls Putin a ‘butcher’ after meeting with Ukrainian refugees

US President Biden meets EU Commission President von der Leyen in Brussels
US President Joe Biden delivers a joint press statement with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the US Mission in Brussels, Belgium, March 25, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

March 26, 2022

By Jarrett Renshaw and Karol Badohal

WARSAW (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden spoke with top Ukrainian officials in Warsaw on Saturday and branded Russian President Vladimir Putin a “butcher” during a meeting with refugees who fled the war in Ukraine to the Polish capital .

On the second day of his visit to Poland, Biden stopped by a meeting between Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Secretary Oleksii Reznikov, as well as Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Ukraine has received additional security pledges from the United States to expand defense cooperation, Kuleba told reporters, while Reznikov expressed “cautious optimism” after meeting Biden.

“President Biden said what is happening in Ukraine will change history in the 21st century, and we will work together to ensure that change is in our favor, in Ukraine’s favor, in the democratic world’s favor,” Kuleba told the Ukrainian citizen TV

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 United States shies away from being drawn into a direct confrontation with Russia, but Washington has pledged to defend every inch of NATO territory.

The White House said that in a speech in Warsaw later Saturday, Biden “will make comments on the united efforts of the free world to support the people of Ukraine, to hold Russia accountable for its brutal war, and to defend a future that… rooted in it is democratic principles”.


In Warsaw, Biden also visited a refugee reception center at the National Stadium. People, some waving Ukrainian flags, lined the streets as his motorcade headed toward the stadium.

After being greeted by celebrity chef Jose Andres, Biden spoke to refugees who had gathered to receive food from the NGO World Central Kitchen, asking for their names and hometowns and posing with some for photos.

More than 2 million people fled to Poland before the war. In total, around 3.8 million people have fled Ukraine since fighting began on February 24.

When asked about the impact Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine 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 recent comments about Putin have narrowed prospects for improving relations between the two countries.

Putin calls Russia’s military actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” the country. Russia denies attacks on civilians.

Standing in front of the stadium, Hanna Kharkovetz, a 27-year-old woman from the northern Ukrainian city of Kharkov, expressed her frustration that the world was not doing more to help.

“I don’t know what he wants to ask us here. If Biden went to Kyiv … that would be better than speaking to me here,” she said while waiting to register her mother for a Polish national ID number.

The invasion of Ukraine has tested NATO’s and the West’s ability to unite.

Poland was under communist rule for four decades until 1989 and was a member of the Moscow-led Warsaw Pact security alliance. It is now part of the European Union and NATO.

The rise of right-wing populism in Poland in recent years has brought it into conflict with the EU and Washington, but fears of Russian encroachment beyond its borders have brought Poland closer to its western allies.

Biden’s election put the nationalist Law and Justice administration in an awkward position because it had placed great emphasis on its relationship with his predecessor, Donald Trump.

But as tensions mounted with Russia before it invaded Ukraine, Duda appeared to be trying to smooth ties with Washington. In December, he vetoed a law critics said was aimed at silencing a US 24-hour news channel.

Biden and Duda were expected to address a disagreement over how to arm Ukraine with fighter jets and other security guarantees at their meeting.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Humeyra Pamuk in Warsaw and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington, Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets in Lviv, Nandita Bose in Washington, Alan Charlish, Justyna Pawlak and Joanna Plucinska in Warsaw and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru, writing by Trevor Hunnicutt, Editing by Heather Timmons, Grant McCool, Frances Kerry and Timothy Heritage) Biden calls Putin a ‘butcher’ after meeting with Ukrainian refugees

Bobby Allyn

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