War in Ukraine: Biden issues strong words for Putin

Published March 26, 2022 at 8:40 AM EDT
President Biden delivers a speech Saturday about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Brendan Smialowski
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AFP via Getty Images
President Biden is visiting Poland -- one of the neighboring countries to have received Ukrainian refugees after the Russian invasion began last month.

After meeting various officials and Ukrainian refugees in Poland, President Biden closed Saturday with comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying, "This man cannot stay in power." Biden has been traveling along NATO's eastern flank, including a stop in a Polish town only 60 miles from the border with Ukraine.

Here is more context about the war and its impact:

Follow more of the latest developments:

World

Biden says of Putin: 'For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power'

Posted March 26, 2022 at 2:50 PM EDT
President Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, committing to fighting back against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Omar Marques
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Getty Images
President Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, President Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin: "For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power."

Shortly after Biden spoke, a White House official downplayed Biden's remarks as a call for removing Putin.

"The President's point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin's power in Russia, or regime change," the White House official said.

After meeting with Ukrainian refugees in Poland, Biden gave a formal address to a crowd in front of Warsaw's Royal Castle, opening with words from the Polish Pope John Paul II: "Be not afraid."

Biden's visit to Poland to meet with both Ukrainian and Polish officials comes just over a month after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. He committed to continue fighting back against Russia.

"This battle will not be won in days or months either. We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead," Biden said.

The White House says around 1,000 people attended the speech, including members of parliament, U.S. Embassy staff and Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Biden spoke about the U.S. sanctions on Russia and said they have damaged the Russian economy.

"The ruble was reduced to rubble," he said.

On the ground

Russia attacks Lviv one day after saying its focus is the other side of Ukraine

Posted March 26, 2022 at 1:35 PM EDT
Smoke billows from the Pidzamche neighbourhood after explosions were heard in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Saturday. It's the second time the city has been hit by Russian forces.
Marion Payet
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AFP via Getty Images
Smoke billows from the Pidzamche neighborhood after explosions were heard in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Saturday. It's the second time the city has been hit by Russian forces.

Russian forces attacked the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Saturday evening local time, just one day after its military announced it would refocus its strategy on the eastern part of Ukraine.

Lviv officials say there were three powerful explosions. A producer working with NPR felt tremors in his apartment. The city has been a refuge for displaced Ukrainians.

Russian forces have attacked Lviv once before, but this hit was closer to the city center. Attacks to western parts of Ukraine have usually been to TV towers, military installations or airports.

The specific targets hit and the number of casualties in today's attack is not known.

Refugee crisis

Biden meets with Ukrainian refugees in Poland

Posted March 26, 2022 at 12:48 PM EDT
President Biden holds a girl on his arm as he and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, standing directly behind him, meet with Ukrainian refugees at PGE Narodowy Stadium in Warsaw on Saturday.
Brendan Smialowski
/
AFP via Getty Images
President Biden holds a girl on his arm as he and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, standing directly behind him, meet with Ukrainian refugees at PGE Narodowy Stadium in Warsaw on Saturday.

President Biden is spending part of his visit to Poland meeting with Ukrainian refugees who have been displaced in the last month by the Russian invasion.

Biden has met with Ukrainian and Polish officials during his visit, as well as U.S. troops. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are traveling with the president.

At PGE Narodowy Stadium in Poland this afternoon, Biden was greeted by the mayor of Warsaw and the prime minister of Poland. Chef José Andrés, who has been helping feed refugees through his organization World Central Kitchen, was also there.

Biden briefly met with reporters after his visit and said he is “always surprised” by “the depth and strength of the human spirit" and called the children "wonderful."

Biden also called Russian President Vladimir Putin a butcher and said he is not sure that Russia is really changing its strategy, despite what Russian military officials announced Friday.

Protests

Ukrainians confront Russian military forces with peaceful protests

Posted March 26, 2022 at 11:59 AM EDT

Russian forces are being met with Ukrainian military resistance in cities like Kyiv and Mariupol.

But they're also being met with peaceful civilian protests.

In Slavutych, a small town near Chernobyl in northern Ukraine, large crowds of Ukrainian protesters chanted: "Slavutych is Ukraine." Other cities such as Kherson, Melitopol and Mykolaiv also have seen protests.

And it's not just Ukrainians who are protesting. In nearby Poland, where President Biden is visiting with Ukrainian officials, protesters gathered outside the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw on Friday.

Footage shows protesters laying down to represent the bodies of Ukrainians who were dying, local media reported.

Military strategy

One month into the war, Russia's military strategy may be changing

Posted March 26, 2022 at 11:19 AM EDT

More than one month since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry is saying its military strategy may shift to focus on Eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting for years.

A senior U.S. defense official says that Russians want to take full control of the Donbas region, which is near the besieged port city of Mariupol, to cut off Ukrainian forces from helping other areas including the capital, Kyiv.

In Ukraine, Russia's claims are being met with skepticism, NPR's Nathan Rott reports. While the announcement from Russia is in line with what Pentagon officials are saying about Russia's strategy, Russia's statement included claims that its forces have overtaken far more of Ukraine than they actually have.

Additionally, the Russians have already struck cities in Western Ukraine, leaving civilians there on edge and doubtful that Russia will only target the eastern part of the country.

Recently, a missile strike hit Vynnystia, a Western Ukrainian city, which has a Ukrainian Air Force center. But it's still unclear if there was collateral damage from the strike.

Diplomacy

Biden meets with top Ukrainian officials in Poland

Posted March 26, 2022 at 9:49 AM EDT
President Biden meets with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov in Warsaw on Saturday.
Brendan Smialowski
/
AFP via Getty Images
President Biden meets with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov in Warsaw on Saturday.

President Biden met with Ukraine's defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, and its foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, in Warsaw, Poland, as the U.S. continues to show support for the besieged nation one month after Russia's invasion. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were also there.

The meeting, which took place in a hotel conference room in the capital city, was the first time Ukraine's defense and foreign ministers both met with their U.S. counterparts, Reznikov tweeted.

He said they discussed "current issues & cooperation in political & defense directions" between Ukraine and the U.S.

The meeting comes shortly after Biden's visit to Brussels to meet with NATO leaders on how to support Ukraine. The alliance is facing pressureto step up its assistance as the war drags on.

Reporters were only in the room briefly before the Warsaw meeting started and caught a glimpse of Biden asking the officials how their trip to Poland had been.

Saturday is the last day of Biden's visit to Poland.