One year ago, after months of saber-rattling and denial of the international community’s warnings that a Russian incursion into Ukraine was imminent, Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale military invasion on its sovereign neighbor.
“The largest land war in Europe since World War Two had begun. And the principles that had been the cornerstone of peace, prosperity, and stability on this planet for more than 75 years were at risk of being shattered,” said President Biden during his recent visit of Poland.
“When Russia invaded, it wasn’t just Ukraine being tested. The whole world faced a test for the ages,” he said. “And the questions we faced were as simple as they were profound. Would we respond or would we look the other way?”
“When President Putin ordered his tanks to roll into Ukraine, he thought we would roll over. He was wrong,” said President Biden. “The Ukrainian people are too brave. America, Europe, a coalition of nations from the Atlantic to the Pacific — we were too unified. Democracy was too strong.”
“Instead of an easy victory he perceived and predicted, Putin was left with burnt-out tanks and Russia’s forces in … disarray,” he said. “He thought he’d get the Finlandization of NATO. Instead, he got the NATOization of Finland — and Sweden. He thought NATO would fracture and divide. Instead, NATO is more united and more unified than ever before.”
“A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never be able to erase the people’s love of liberty,” said President Biden. “Brutality will never grind down the will of the free. And Ukraine — Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia. Never.”
“One year after the bombs began to fall and Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, Ukraine is still independent and free. From Kherson to Kharkiv, Ukrainian fighters have reclaimed their land,” he said. “In more than 50 percent of the territory Russia held last year, the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine proudly waves once again. President Zelenskyy still leads a democratically elected government that represents the will of the Ukrainian people.”
“As Ukraine continues to defend itself against the Russian onslaught and launch counter-offensives of its own, there will continue to be hard and very bitter days, victories and tragedies,” said President Biden. “But Ukraine is steeled for the fight ahead. And the United States, together with our Allies and partners, are going to continue to have Ukraine’s back as it defends itself.”