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Biden says he was told he couldn’t go to Ukraine as he praises the ‘backbone’ of the Ukrainian people

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US President Joe Biden said on Friday that his advisers told him he could not visit the Polish-Ukrainian border for security reasons, praising the courage of Ukrainians, both soldiers and ordinary citizens, who took up arms. to defend against attacks. now month-long unprovoked Russian invasion of his country.

Speaking at a briefing on the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s aggression alongside Polish President Andrzej Duda, Biden compared the Ukrainian people’s defense of their country to the students who stood up to China’s communist government during protests in pro-democracy in the late 1980s, praising the “courage, passion, resilience” of the Ukrainian people.

“When you see a 30-year-old woman standing in front of a tank with a rifle. I mean, speaking of what happened to Tiananmen Square, this is Tiananmen Square squared,” she said.

Biden, who arrived in Poland after meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels and announcing a new US-European task force on energy security, said he was there “to see firsthand ” the humanitarian crisis and regretted how he was. they are not allowed to visit the border.

“Frankly, part of my disappointment is that I don’t get to see it firsthand like I have in other places,” he said, adding that he understood why he was discouraged from going.

Earlier on Friday, the president visited members of the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division at their temporary headquarters in Jasionka, Poland, where they have been deployed as part of a NATO effort to reinforce the eastern flank of the alliance as a deterrent against Russia.

Speaking to a large group of soldiers at the G2A Arena, Biden praised the Ukrainian people for having “a lot of backbone” and “a lot of guts.”

He told the troops that he was not limiting his assessment of the Ukrainian stronghold to the regular forces that have been fighting Russian troops since they invaded last month.

“I am not just referring to the military, which we have been training since Russia moved to southeastern Ukraine. But also the average citizen. Look how they are intensifying. Look how they are escalating,” he said.

“You’re going to see when you’re there, you’re going to see: women, young people standing… in front of a damn tank saying ‘I’m not leaving,’ they’re incredible.”

While Biden’s comments implied the possibility of US troops crossing the border into Ukraine, a White House spokesman said. the independent Biden was not signaling a change in American politics.

US President Joe Biden meets with US Army soldiers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at the G2 Arena in Jasionka, near Rzeszow, Poland, March 25, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein (REUTERS)

“The president has been clear: We will not send US troops to Ukraine and there is no change in that position,” they said.

But the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Biden condemned as a “war criminal” during his joint appearance with Duda, could escalate the conflict that began by employing banned chemical weapons could force the hands of Biden and the leaders. of NATO.

Although Russia is a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, Putin has shown no qualms about using such weapons, whether through proxies like Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad (who used sarin nerve gas in a 2017 attack on Khan Sheikhoun) or through their own forces, even on foreign soil.

Asked during a news conference Thursday whether Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine with chemical weapons would force NATO to take military action, Biden told reporters that NATO leaders will decide how to respond if Russia decides to deploy such weapons and when. Russia’s use of chemical weapons “would trigger an in-kind response.”

At the same press conference, the president also said he warned Chinese leader Xi Jinping not to take any action to help Russia weather the economic storm brought on by sanctions imposed as a result of Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

President Joe Biden visits with members of the 82nd Airborne Division at the G2A Arena, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Jasionka, Poland.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (AP)

President Joe Biden visits with members of the 82nd Airborne Division at the G2A Arena, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Jasionka, Poland. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (AP)

Biden did not respond directly and was asked if he had seen any indication that Xi had made up his mind whether to help Putin.

But the president referred to the two-hour conversation he had with Xi on March 18, during which he said he “made sure” the Chinese leader “understood the consequences of helping Russia.”

Referring to “long discussions” he said he had with Xi about China’s ambitions for “economic relations” and “economic growth” with the West, Biden said he warned Xi that a decision to help Moscow would put him at risk. “the same”. and “those targets” in “significant danger.”

“I think China understands that its economic future is tied much more to the West than it is to Russia,” Biden said. “So I’m hopeful that he won’t compromise.”

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