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In a major speech on the war in Ukraine, US President Joe Biden said the conflict was a clear test for democracies around the world, and he described Ukrainian resistance against Russian forces as part of a “great battle for freedom”.

Speaking March 26 at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Biden said there was no justification for Russia’s brutal war of aggression in Ukraine and openly called for the impeachment of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“For the love of God, this man can’t stay in power,” Biden said, concluding his speech, which came at the end of a three-day trip to Europe.

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The White House later clarified that Biden was not seeking “regime change” in Russia.

“The president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to wield power over his neighbors or the region,” a White House official said. “He wasn’t talking about Putin’s power in Russia, or about regime change.”

Earlier on March 26, while visiting Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, Biden called Putin a “butcher” and called him a tyrant in his speech.

Addressing a crowd of around 1,000 gathered outside the castle, Biden reiterated that the United States stood with Ukraine, saying Russia was trying to crush democracy at home and put it in place. danger to his neighbours.

Democracies around the world must prepare for a “long fight ahead” and all freedom-loving countries must commit to safeguarding democracy for the long term, Biden said.

“It won’t be easy. There will be costs,” he added.

The US president has repeatedly referred to Putin by name, slamming him for meeting Western attempts at “genuine diplomacy” before the conflict with “disinterest” and “lies”.

He also reiterated that Russia’s invasion only served to strengthen NATO and the West, which he said is “more united” than ever.

As a result of the war, he said, there are more NATO troops in Eastern Europe, not fewer, as Russia had demanded, Biden said.

The United States alone now has more than 100,000 troops in Europe, he said, warning Russia against “moving within a single inch of NATO territory”, noting “the obligation sacred” of the members of NATO to defend the territory of the alliance with the combined power of all its members. .

Biden also addressed the Russian people directly, saying he was not the enemy and that Putin had cut him off from the rest of the world. He said Russia was experiencing a “brain drain” which has seen more than 200,000 people leave the country since the war began on February 24.

The audience gathered in front of the castle – adorned with a giant American flag on one side and a Polish flag on the other – included some of the Ukrainian refugees who themselves fled their home country in the middle of the invasion.

Biden encouraged them by echoing the words of Polish-born Pope John Paul II, a staunch anti-Communist, who told Poles on a trip to his native country in 1979 never to lose hope or be discouraged.

“Have no fear,” Biden said. “A dictator determined to rebuild an empire will never erase the people’s love for freedom.”

Concluding his sweeping address, Biden said, “We will have a different future, a better future rooted in democracy and principles, hope and light.”

Biden earlier met in Warsaw with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov — his first face-to-face meeting with senior Kyiv officials since Russia’s unprovoked invasion began. Biden also met with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Kuleba told reporters that Ukraine had received additional security pledges from Washington on developing defense cooperation.

“President Biden has said that what happens in Ukraine will change the history of the 21st century, and we will work together to make that change work for us, for Ukraine, for the democratic world” , Kuleba told the Ukrainian National. television after the meeting,

On the front line, a senior Ukrainian official announced an agreement to open 10 evacuation corridors from the besieged port of Mariupol, where heavy fighting continued, while the mayor of kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, reversed his decision to institute a lengthy curfew in the capital as fighting continued around the city and in other flashpoints.

A regional official said Russian forces took control of a town where Chernobyl nuclear power plant workers live and dispersed a civilian protest by firing into the air.

Kyiv region governor Oleksandr Pavlyuk said Russian forces had taken control of the town of Slavutych, where workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant live.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made a surprise video appearance on March 26 at the Doha Forum in Qatar, calling on energy-rich countries to increase production to prevent Moscow from using energy exports as leverage in relations with countries. dependent on oil and gas imports.

“I ask you to increase energy production to make everyone in Russia understand that no one can use energy as a weapon to blackmail the world,” Zelenskiy said.

With reports from the AP, AFP and Reuters