US President Joe Biden rallied NATO allies in Poland, declaring his “unwavering” support for Kiev, as his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, announced Moscow’s suspension of the nuclear weapons treaty with Washington.
After his surprise visit to Ukraine, Biden used Tuesday’s trip to drum up support for Ukraine as the war enters its second year, with no end in sight.
“A year ago, the world was preparing for the fall of Kiev,” Biden said. “I can say: Kiev is strong, Kiev is proud, it stands tall, and most importantly, it is free.”
Biden spoke after meeting with NATO ally and Polish President Andrzej Duda, a staunch supporter of stronger Western support for Kiev.
The announcement follows an unannounced visit Monday to Ukraine, the first time in recent memory that a US president has visited a war zone not controlled by US forces.
Poland has the longest border between NATO and Ukraine, and it was the main route for the transfer of weapons and the exit of refugees. The two leaders were discussing Poland’s security and increasing NATO’s resources there.
In a state of the nation address ahead of the one-year anniversary of the crackdown in Ukraine, Putin said on Tuesday that Moscow would freeze its participation in the New START treaty, a landmark nuclear arms deal with Washington.
Putin also accused the West of escalating the conflict and promised that Russia would continue to fight “systematically” for its goals.
The Russian president accused Western powers of wanting to “deal with us once and for all” but said increasingly tough sanctions against Russia “will not work”.
Moscow says it will abide by the restrictions
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the country would continue to abide by the restrictions imposed by New START.
The treaty, the most recent nuclear arms control agreement between the world’s two major nuclear powers, has been extended until early 2026.
After Putin’s speech, France and the United Kingdom called on the Kremlin to reverse its decision to suspend participation in the treaty.
Earlier on Tuesday, the foreign ministers of the industrialized nations of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations said their nations would continue to impose economic costs on Russia and urged the broader international community to reject what they called Moscow’s “brutal expansion”.
“We will impose additional economic costs on Russia and on individuals and entities – inside and outside Russia – who provide political or economic support for these violations of international law,” the leaders said in a joint statement.
Meanwhile, the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, said Rome would continue to support Ukraine in its resistance to Russian attacks, but had no plans to supply combat aircraft to Kiev.
“At the moment, aircraft supplies are not on the table,” Meloni told a news conference alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Italian leader, on her first trip to Ukraine since the Russian invasion, has been a staunch supporter of Cave, but other members of her right-wing coalition have been more mum on the issue.