In remarks in Poland, President Biden cautioned the world to brace for a protracted conflict over Ukraine, capping a tour to Europe aimed at bolstering NATO’s reaction to Russia’s invasion.
“This battle will not be won in days, or months, either. We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead,” he said, addressing top Polish officials and audience members at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
Biden gestured to the historical significance of Warsaw in what he has cast as an ongoing battle between democracy and autocracy, calling the city a “sacred place” in the history of Europe and in “humankind’s unending search for freedom.”
The president opened his speech by evoking a famous line from the first public address of Pope John Paul II: “Be not afraid,” said the first pontiff of Polish descent in 1978.
“It was a message about the power of faith, the power of resilience, the power of people in the face of a cruel and brutal system of government,” said Biden, who is a Catholic. “It was a message that helped end the Soviet repression in the central land and Eastern Europe 30 years ago. It was a message that will help overcome the cruelty and brutality of this unjust war.”
Biden also invoked the Polish Solidarity movement, which emerged as a major opposition movement in the Soviet-bloc nation in the 1980s.
“Ten years later, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Poland and Central and Eastern Europe would soon be free,” Biden said. “Nothing about that battle for freedom was simple or easy. It was a long, painful slog — fought over not days and months, but years and decades.”
“But we emerged anew, in the great battle for freedom: A battle between democracy and autocracy, between liberty and repression, between a rules-based order and one governed by brute force,” he said.