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President Joe Biden hit back at Vladimir Putin on Tuesday evening, blasting his claim that U.S. wanted to ‘destroy Russia’ and saying that the war in Ukraine was entirely the Russian president’s doing.

He dismissed Putin as a dictator who was bound to lose as he delivered a speech in Warsaw, Poland, to mark the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine

‘The United States and the nations of Europe do not seek to control or destroy Russia,’ Biden said to cheers in the grounds of Warsaw’s Royal Castle.

‘The West was not plotting to attack Russia, as Putin said today and millions of Russian citizens only want to live in peace with their neighbours are not the enemy. 

‘This war was never a necessity. It’s a tragedy.’

President Joe Biden received a hero's welcome when he arrived in the grounds of Warsaw's Royal Castle on Tuesday evening to mark the anniversary of the war in Ukraine

President Joe Biden received a hero’s welcome when he arrived in the grounds of Warsaw’s Royal Castle on Tuesday evening to mark the anniversary of the war in Ukraine

'Brutality will never grind down the will of the free,' said Biden to an audience of Poles and Ukrainian refugees. 'And Ukraine ... Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, never.'

‘Brutality will never grind down the will of the free,’ said Biden to an audience of Poles and Ukrainian refugees. ‘And Ukraine … Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, never.’

He delivered his speech a day after making a surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, and hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a long-delayed state-of-the-nation address.

The result was a face-off that could have from come from the height of the Cold War as East and West delivered dueling speeches. Putin accused Washington of sparking the war, before Biden hit back. 

The sense of occasion was only intensified by the size of the crowd awaiting Biden in cold gloom of the Polish evening. The Warsaw mayor’s office claimed it was 30,000-strong.

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‘One year ago, the world was bracing for the fall of Kyiv,’ Biden told the packed crowd. ‘Well I just came from a visit to Kyiv, and I can report Kyiv stands strong.’ 

The speech offered a chance to riff on one of Biden’s key ideological themes: That authoritarian regimes are fragile in the face of democracy.

‘Autocrats only understand one word no, no, no,’ he said.

‘No, you will not take my country. No, you will not take my freedom. 

‘No, you will not take my future. 

‘And I’ll repeat tonight what I said last year, the same place. A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never be able to ease the people’s love of liberty. 

‘Brutality will never grind down the will of the free. 

‘And Ukraine … Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, never.’

The day began with President Vladimir Putin of Russia giving  his state-of-the-nation address, in which he railed against the West. It set up Biden's speech as a defense of democracy

The day began with President Vladimir Putin of Russia giving  his state-of-the-nation address, in which he railed against the West. It set up Biden’s speech as a defense of democracy

The Royal Warsaw Castle offered a spectacular backdrop. Polish President Andrzej Duda introduced Biden to a crowd of thousands in the castle grounds

The Royal Warsaw Castle offered a spectacular backdrop. Polish President Andrzej Duda introduced Biden to a crowd of thousands in the castle grounds

Biden arrived to find a city in a state of high anticipation. His trip to Kyiv only heightened the excitement and he delivered his speech to a packed crowd at the castle

Biden arrived to find a city in a state of high anticipation. His trip to Kyiv only heightened the excitement and he delivered his speech to a packed crowd at the castle

Earlier in the day, Polish President Andrzej Duda (right) welcomed Biden to Warsaw

Earlier in the day, Polish President Andrzej Duda (right) welcomed Biden to Warsaw

He warned that there were ‘hard and very bitter days, victories and tragedies’ ahead but promised that the U.S. would not waver in its support for Ukraine. 

‘There should be no doubt our support for Ukraine will not waver, NATO will not be divided. And we will not tire,’ he said.

‘President Putin’s craving, lust for land and power will fail.’

He met with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the presidential palace, where he set out once again the United States’ dedication to European security and to Ukraine.

‘We have to have security in Europe,’ he said. ‘It’s that basic, that simple, that consequential.’

He talked about his visit to Poland last year, soon after Russia invaded Ukraine. 

‘A year later, I would argue that NATO is stronger than it’s ever been,’ he said. ‘As I told President Zelensky while we spoke in Kyiv yesterday I can proudly say that our support for Ukraine remains unwavering.’

President Joe Biden is welcomed to Kyiv by President Volodymyr Zelensky during a surprise visit on Monday morning. Biden announced a fresh $500 million in aid for Ukraine

President Joe Biden is welcomed to Kyiv by President Volodomyr Zelensky during a surprise visit on Monday morning. Biden announced a fresh $500 million in aid for Ukraine

He arrived after making the 10-hour overnight journey from Poland to Kyiv, arriving in the war-torn city on Monday morning. He traveled back again later that afternoon by the same route

He arrived after making the 10-hour overnight journey from Poland to Kyiv, arriving in the war-torn city on Monday morning. He traveled back again later that afternoon by the same route

President Joe Biden arrives for a surprise visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

President Joe Biden arrives for a surprise visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Biden arrived in Warsaw late on Monday night, after making the 10-hour train journey back from Kyiv.

There he delighted locals by announcing a fresh round of arms deliveries, recommitting the U.S. to its support of Ukraine, and making an open-air walkabout to honor the country’s fallen soldiers.

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Officials said Biden only signed off on the trip after a security briefing in the Oval Office on Friday.

‘I thought it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about US support for Ukraine in the war,’ said Biden as he sat for talks with President Volodomyr Zelensky soon arriving. 

‘The Ukrainian people have stepped up in a way that few people ever have in the past.’ 

Duda introduced Biden ahead of his speech on Tuesday, and described how he had made a ‘spectactular’ gesture with his visit.

‘He put his foot on Ukrainian soil, where war is raging,’ said the Polish president. ‘He demonstrated that a free world and its leader is not afraid of anything.

‘He showed that Ukraine is not alone.’

The visit infuriated Russia. And Putin used a long-planned speech to accuse the West of sowing war and instability.

‘It’s they who have started the war,’ he told an audience of lawmakers. ‘And we are using force to end it.’ 

Flanked by four Russian tricolor flags, Putin said the U.S. and its allies were sowing chaos and war.

‘The people of Ukraine have become the hostage of the Kyiv regime and its Western overlords, who have effectively occupied this country in the political, military and economic sense,’ he said.

And he used the occasion to say that he was suspending Russia’s participation in the New START Treaty, the last major arms control treaty between Moscow and Washington.

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