Biden’s visit to Ukraine and Poland: “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia – never!”

President Biden speaks to a crowd in Warsaw, Poland – 21 Feb 2023 (Jack Evans)

By Kevin Zupkas 

Nearly a year after Russian tanks rolled across the border into Ukraine –– with many military experts having predicted that Kyiv would fall within a few days –– President Biden visited the still Ukrainian-controlled capital in what was a hugely symbolic and solidary event. 

Biden’s journey to Ukraine itself was largely secretive: leaving the White House at 4:15 a.m. Eastern Time on Feb. 19, and even posting a fake day schedule on the White House website

Biden wasn’t seen in public until he arrived in the Ukrainian capital that Monday morning. He took a train from an airport in Poland in what Ukrainian National Rail (Ukrzaliznytsia) CEO Oleksandr Kamyshin dubbed “Rail Force One.”

Many ceremonial proceedings took place during his visit, including a laying of wreaths in the colors of the Ukrainian and United States’ flags in honor of fallen Ukrainian soldiers.

The most memorable developments of the visit, however, occurred at the presidential palace where Biden heavily criticized the failures of Putin’s evil actions and reaffirmed the West’s unrelenting and unyielding support for Ukraine.

“One year later, Kyiv stands and Ukraine stands. Democracy stands, Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you” and that “Kyiv has captured a part of my heart,” he said. 

Biden pledged another military package worth $460 million, mostly consisting of ammunition and hand-held arms such as Javelin anti-tank launchers. He left Ukraine for Poland around 8:00 p.m. local time that day. The following day, Feb. 22, he met with Polish president Andrzej Duda before holding a speech in Warsaw, Poland. 

Biden’s speech coincided with Putin’s decision to suspend its ratification of the START Treaty: a treaty that limits the U.S. and Russia’s nuclear arsenals –– a move that was seen as escalatory. In response, Biden reaffirmed the strength and unity of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) coalition in his speech and emphasized the necessity of security throughout the European continent.

“[Putin] doubts our staying power. He doubts our continued support for Ukraine. He doubts whether NATO can remain unified. But there should be no doubt our support for Ukraine will not waver. NATO will not be divided, and we will not tire,” Biden said. “The Ukrainian people are too brave. America, Europe, a coalition of nations for the Atlantic to the Pacific, we were too unified. Democracy was too strong.”

Biden’s statements reassuring the power and unity of the NATO alliance were well received by the crowd of Polish citizens and Ukrainian refugees. 

Liberty Lexington’s very own Jack Evans, who attended the event, said the audience was overwhelmingly supportive of Biden –– even more so than of their own president, Duda –– who showed strong faith in the Eastern European populace towards US presence and the NATO alliance.

What we have learned from Biden’s Eastern European excursion is not that the U.S. is supportive of Ukraine and its NATO allies, but rather we learned the true scope of the unity among the NATO alliance, and the popularity of U.S. presence in Eastern Europe. 

It is important then, that we continue our unrelenting support for Ukraine and continue cooperation with our NATO allies in order to guarantee peace and democracy throughout the European continent for years to come.

Poland continues to host Ukrainians one year after Russian invasion

Volunteers help refugees arriving to main railway station – Wroclaw Poland 03 Mar 2022 (Shutterstock/Maksym Szyda)

By Jack Evans 

Since Feb. 24, 2022, Poland has seen over 10 million Ukrainians cross through its territorial bounds. Of these, 1.4 million refugees have decided to remain in Poland.

These refugees have been supported by many volunteer organizations. The response has been described by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as “…a whole-of-society effort, from citizens to the highest level of the Polish government,” with many volunteer organizations providing support.

Polish president Andrzej Duda commended the efforts of Polish citizens, drawing parallels with the anti-communist “Solidarity” political movement. However, his speech also highlighted the grim circumstances faced by Ukrainians who have been unable to escape the war, with an emphasis on rape and murder. 

As the war continues, Poland is expected to welcome more Ukrainians due to shared cultural similarities, which may facilitate a smoother transition for displaced Ukrainians.

The Ukrainian war does not stop in Ukraine

Russian tank in Kyiv region of Ukraine – 05 April 2022 (Shutterstock)

By Blake Ramsey

As the Russian War in Ukraine continues, new developments regarding the war have begun to take place in other places in Eastern Europe.  

Refugees from Ukraine have fled to parts of Eastern Europe, making the effects of the war more widely felt than just the Ukrainian-Russian region; but over the past month, Russia has showcased a greater willingness to act aggressively in other parts of Eastern Europe.  

Earlier this month, Moldovan President Maia Sandu confirmed that the Moldovan intelligence community confirmed a Russian plot to oust the Moldovan government because of its pro-EU stance. This collaboration with Ukraine, which borders Moldova, was brought to their attention by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Additionally, Russia likely senses the weakness of the Moldovan government, as its Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita resigned after economic troubles during her 18-month term.  

While Gavrilita was pro-European Union (EU) herself, her resignation does little for Russian geopolitics, as the Moldovan president has the power to appoint a prime minister in her stead. Thus, to effectively cripple the pro-EU Moldovan government, Russia would have to oust the president and ruling government, installing a government through an artificially created protest. 

Russia’s plan reportedly involves citizens of Russia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Belarus entering Moldova to attempt to stir action. This not only suggests Russia’s influence in the region but also geopolitical interest for other Eastern European countries.

Another recent development involves Moldova’s participation in the war. After being accused of having the plan to overthrow Moldova’s government, which Russia denies, Russia accused Ukraine of planning to attack Transnistria. Transnistria is a formerly Moldovan region that broke away through Russian separatists, similar to what happened in Ukrainian cities, Donbas and Luhansk.

Ukraine vigorously denies this claim, and Moldova believes them, expecting it to rather be a false-flag attack by Russian forces if it does indeed happen. 

While these developments are new with very little information publicly on them, the recent Russian expansionism outside of the borders of Ukraine suggests that Russia does not plan to stop at Ukraine or to go to a “defensive” war in protecting regions already conquered – rather, Russia wants to continue to expand their reach and geopolitical influence within the region. 

This has three vast implications for the continuing war: One, most significantly, it showcases that Russia plans on continuing its assault on Ukraine. Second, the geopolitics of being pro-EU vs pro-Russia will continue to play a major part in Eastern European countries as Russia seeks to gain further traction in this region. Third, and potentially most harrowing, if Russia does indeed manage to destabilize Moldova’s government, it will cause further fighting in a warring region and more refugees attempting to escape the fighting. 

Turkey and Syria fall victim to earthquake aftershocks Monday, devastating hundreds of more citizens.

Drone photos show the massive devastation caused by the earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey, leaving tens of thousands dead and injured. Aleppo, Syria February 8, 2023 (Mohammad Bash/ Shutterstock)

By Harper Meacham

A magnitude 6.3 aftershock struck Turkey and Syria Monday, killing eight and injuring 300 just weeks after a deadly earthquake hit in the same area. 

Turkey’s southern Hatay providence, along the Syrian border, felt the effects of the temblors that damaged buildings that had survived the quakes earlier this month. More than 48,000 people have died across Turkey and Syria since the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on Feb. 6. 

“The new tremblor has unsettled families and communities who’ve already had their sense of security shaken to the core,” said Jenelle Eli, a spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

According to the United States Geological Survey, the Kahramanmaraş region was expected to face severe aftershocks, especially after experiencing the 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation Reconstruction estimated reconstruction to cost nearly $85 billion addressing the 8,000 budlings that were destroyed. 

The aftershocks trapped many inside buildings, and an aid group with workers in Syria reported many citizens jumping from buildings in a panic.  

Out of fear of losing more lives, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay urged the public to stay far from damaged buildings, especially if there are belongings inside. 

Before the disaster, Turkey was already recovering from a collapsing currency and runaway inflation crisis; some leaders of opposing parties took this opportunity after the earthquake to defame Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in hopes of furthering their campaign in preparation for elections this May. 

The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said if anyone is to blame for this disaster, it’sErdoğan. 

“In a period like this, I cannot stomach people conducting negative campaigns for political interest,” Erdoğan said in response to Kilicdaroglu. 

Erdoğan will face growing pressure to address Turkey’s inevitable economic blow and the thousands of lives lost due to the massive destruction, especially with elections around the corner.