In Poland, Obama Reassures Region After Russia Annexes Crimea

President Obama is in Warsaw for a celebration marking the 25th anniversary of Poland's emergence from Soviet domination. It's a milestone with contemporary echoes in neighboring Ukraine.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning. President Obama is in Poland today for a celebration marking the 25th anniversary of that country's emergence from Soviet domination. It is a milestone with contemporary echoes in neighboring Ukraine. Obama met this morning with the incoming president of Ukraine, whose election last week holds hope of stabilizing that country. NPR's Scott Horsley is on the line with us. Scott, good morning.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: So you are traveling with the president. He spoke this morning in the Royal Square in Warsaw. What did he have to say?

HORSLEY: Well, Obama recalled that historic election here in Poland 25 years ago this summer, which helped bring the Solidarity movement to political power. And that was the beginning of a remarkable transformation that swept across Europe, culminating five months later in the fall of the Berlin wall. The spark of that revolution, Obama said, was lit right here in Poland. But this was not just a celebration of past victories because as you said, and Obama said, right now neighboring Ukraine is fighting for its own self-determination.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Just as free nations offered support and assistance to Poland in your transition to democracy, we stand with Ukrainians now. Ukraine must be free to choose its own future for itself and by itself.

HORSLEY: Obama said the Ukrainians of today are the heirs of solidarity.

GREENE: Well later today, Scott, the president is then heading to Brussels for a meeting of the G7 countries - important to note it is no longer the G8 - I actually saw a photo you sent where you adjusted your old umbrella, erasing the eight and putting seven, because it's seven countries now. It was supposed to be in Russia. Russia's not hosting it, Russia's not even being included in these meetings.

HORSLEY: That's right. Putin's invitation was nixed after Russian troops took control in Crimea. Now there have been some positive signs from Russia in recent days. Putin has acknowledged the election of Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine last week. He's withdrawn some Russian troops from the border with Ukraine. But Obama says Putin needs to do more to exercise his influence with the pro-Russian separatist in Ukraine, and that's something that the G7 leaders will be talking about.

GREENE: Having those discussions without Russia included. NPR's Scott Horsley traveling with President Obama in Poland. Scott, thanks a lot.

HORSLEY: Good to be with you, David.

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