Biden in Kyiv and Warsaw: what’s the message?

Just days before the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, US President Joe Biden met with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv and pledged his continuing support and further arms deliveries. He then travelled, as announced, to Warsaw. Europe’s press discusses what signals have been sent.

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

All expectations fulfilled

Gazeta Wyborcza is entirely satisfied with the US President’s visit to Warsaw:

“Biden’s speech contained everything we had been waiting for. There was appreciation for the bravery of the Ukrainians, admiration for the assistance the Poles have given to refugees, support for the Belarusians who are fighting for their freedom and for the Republic of Moldova, which Russia is trying to prevent from joining the European family through hybrid warfare. Joe Biden emphasised the importance of Nato’s Article 5, which states that if a member of the Alliance is attacked, the other countries will come to its aid. According to Biden, this principle is sacred. He could hardly have used stronger words.”

Bartosz Wieliński
Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

A speech about values

Joe Biden put the focus on values rather than technical matters, Tygodnik Powszechny adds:

“Here in the Polish capital, perhaps contrary to some expectations, Biden did not explain how many US troops will be stationed in Poland, or for how long; there were no figures or statistics on further aid packages. In his speech to the Poles, and, it seems, to the American public, Joe Biden presented a higher justification, so to speak, for the efforts, costs and risks that the countries of the democratic world are taking on for Ukraine. Not on the level of politics, but on the level of values.”

Wojciech Pięciak
Ukrainian Radio (UA) /

Stealing Putin’s show

Volodymyr Ohrysko, former Ukrainian Foreign Minister, tells Ukrayinske Radio:

“The first and most important aspect is that with this visit President Biden gave Putin a resounding slap in the face. So loud that the whole world heard it. We saw once again that neither the president of little Estonia nor the president of big America is afraid of Putin. ... I believe that this is a very positive moment that indicates a change in the attitude of Western leaders towards the Russian Federation. The second signal was for China and the Western allies, to whom Biden made clear that he will continue to ensure that Ukraine does not lose.”

Wolodymyr Ohrysko
Karar (TR) /

Electioneering the main motivation

Scoring points on the domestic front was the main motivation for Biden’s visit to Ukraine, says Karar:

“Some say Biden wanted to prevent the war from coming to an end, others say he wanted to free the way for the aid packages that are stuck in Congress, and still others say he wanted to boost his chances of being re-elected. Judging by the background information ‘leaked’ to the press after the visit, the emphasis on how risky the visit was, and the small detail that the president barely slept on the train, we can conclude that the third reason was the real one for his visit.”

Mensur Akgün
Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

The right moment

With his Kyiv visit Biden is sending a message not just to Moscow, Rzeczpospolita suspects:

“On Tuesday morning, Vladimir Putin was supposed to announce a new phase in Ukraine in his state of the nation address. But Biden beat him to it and put him on the defensive. This is surely his reaction to China’s preparations to support Russia directly, including with arms deliveries. If Xi Jinping decides to do this, he will be engaging in a direct confrontation with America — this is the message Joe Biden is sending with his visit to Kyiv.”

Jędrzej Bielecki
Denník N (SK) /

Putin doesn’t even dare visit Donetsk

For Denník N, one thing was particularly striking during this visit:

“Biden is hardly perfect, but the contrast with the Russian bunker president is striking. Cowardly Putin has been hiding for years. First from Covid, now from assassination. This man who kills tens of thousands can have an entire ensemble of vetted FSB agents accompany him anywhere. But even so, he didn’t dare visit the new ‘Russian’ territories temporarily stolen from Ukraine. ... Vladimir Putin will never visit Kyiv again. Because he knows very well that he would be in mortal danger every step of the way.”

Roman Pataj
Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Kyiv is the new West Berlin

The focus of US-European policy has shifted eastwards, notes the Tagesspiegel:

“Biden is giving the big speech on the war in Warsaw. He is meeting there with the presidents of the ‘Bucharest Nine’ (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary). Berlin, Paris and London are not on his itinerary. The free part of Ukraine has assumed the role and aura that West Berlin had during the Cold War. The eastern allies are now the frontline states of the West. Neither the EU nor Western Europe alone can guarantee their security. These peoples put their trust in the US.”

Christoph von Marschall
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

A signal to US voters

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung says the US president also wanted to make it clear that he is fit enough for another term in office:

“Biden is showing the world that an American president has nothing to fear, not even from a brutal warmonger like Putin. ... Such a trip is not for Sleepy Joe, the caricature Biden’s opponent Donald Trump presented of his four-years-older rival in the last election campaign. It is thus also a deliberate demonstration of the octogenarian president’s vitality and initiative, aimed primarily at voters in the US. In Washington, Biden’s candidacy for a second term is expected to be announced soon.”

Peter Rásonyi