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Highlights and analysis from Biden’s speech today in Poland on Ukraine

Biden called out Putin by name, but he did not directly address the Russian president's announcement that Moscow was suspending its participation in a key nuclear treaty.

What to know about Biden's trip to Poland and Ukraine

  • President Joe Biden marked the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in a visit to Poland, a key NATO ally, with a rousing speech in Warsaw after meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda earlier in the day.
  • Biden's speech called out Vladimir Putin by name, but he did not directly address the Russian president's announcement earlier Tuesday that Moscow was suspending participation in New START, a key nuclear arms control treaty and the last such agreement between the two countries.
  • Here's why Biden's clandestine trip to Kyiv on Monday — the first time in modern history an American president entered a war zone where there is no active U.S. military presence — matters.
29d ago / 9:16 PM UTC

Biden touches on a major campaign theme in his Poland speech on the Ukraine war

President Joe Biden echoed his 2020 campaign and alluded to his all-but-certain re-election bid in Poland on Tuesday, as he lauded the democracies of the world for coming to Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s year-old invasion.

Warsaw, Poland, is an odd backdrop for an American president to launch his re-election campaign — and Biden did not do that — but, as he gears up to run again, Biden emphasized the parallel he draws between domestic political fights and his view of a global battle pitting freedom against tyranny.

29d ago / 5:52 PM UTC

The dueling speeches Tuesday by President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin are perhaps another indicator of the strained communication between Russia and the United States. The two leaders had previously agreed to regular “strategic stability dialogue” after their first meeting in 2021, but the pursuit of that quietly ended after Russia invaded Ukraine. Both sides have pointed to the other as the aggressor as the conflict has reached new heights. The speeches gave little hope that there is much path for reconciliation between Biden and Putin or their two countries — or that the two leaders would meet again anytime soon — while Russia's war drags on.

29d ago / 5:18 PM UTC
29d ago / 5:17 PM UTC

Biden didn’t address the elephant in the room for Russian-American relations: Putin’s decision to "suspend" the New START treaty. Any discussion of that escalation by Russia would have been at odds with Biden’s triumphant message. But ignoring it doesn’t diminish the peril of Russia pulling back from limits on nuclear weapons.

29d ago / 5:16 PM UTC

Poland has taken more than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine, which Biden took some time to recognize. “Thank you, Poland. Thank you, thank you, thank you for what you’re doing,” he said to conclude his speech.

Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, noted on Twitter that this is a way that other NATO members contribute to the alliance beyond defense spending: “Many Americans don’t understand how much Europeans have done for refugees. This is part of ‘burden sharing’ too.”

29d ago / 5:09 PM UTC

Biden: ‘No sweeter word than freedom’

President Joe Biden stressed that “all decisions are ours to make now" and that "the principles and the stakes are eternal."

He said that there is a "choice" to be made "between chaos and stability, between building and destroying, between hope and fear, between democracy that lifts up the human spirit and the brutal hand of the dictator who crushes it, between nothing less than limitation and possibilities — the kind of possibilities that come with people who live out of captivity, but in freedom. Freedom, freedom — there’s no sweeter word than freedom.”

29d ago / 5:09 PM UTC
29d ago / 5:07 PM UTC

After President Joe Biden finished his remarks, Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars” came on and a large group of children waving Ukrainian and American flags walked out and surrounded him. A White House pool report said “embassy staff and children” were invited to Biden’s speech, but it’s unclear if those were the children on the stage.

29d ago / 5:06 PM UTC

Biden says U.S. will hit Russia with new sanctions this week

President Joe Biden said that the U.S. and its allies will announce new sanctions against Russia this week to "seek justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity" committed by Russian troops.

He added that the U.S. and its partners maintain the largest sanction regime ever imposed on a country. The new sanctions, he said, will "hold accountable those who are responsible for this war."

29d ago / 5:05 PM UTC

Though there are some who are critical of the New START treaty for its scope and the pause of its onsite weapon inspections during the pandemic, it undoubtedly has played a powerful role in capping nuclear forces as tensions between the U.S. and Russia increased. Without it, as the Ukraine war began, the world may have seen calls for increased nuclear weapon deployments and another arms race.

29d ago / 5:05 PM UTC

Biden wraps speech: 'Stand with us, we will stand with you'

President Joe Biden finished his speech, saying, "The enemy of the tyrant and the hope of the brave and the truth of the age is freedom."

"Stand with us. We will stand with you. Let us move forward with faith and conviction and with an abiding commitment to be allied," he said.

"God bless you all. May God protect our troops and may God bless the heroes in Ukraine ... Thank you, Poland. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for what you’re doing. God bless you," Biden said.

29d ago / 5:04 PM UTC

Biden makes a subtle but important nod to his campaign in framing the battle of autocracy vs. democracy as fighting for a future “not of darkness but of light” — the terminology he used at the Democratic convention in 2020. He also told audiences in Poland, the United States and Russia that the future of that battle will be determined by “the decisions we make over the next five years or so” — about the time a second Biden term would be starting to wind down.

29d ago / 5:02 PM UTC

While President Joe Biden hammers Russian President Vladimir Putin in Warsaw and promises to “never” let Russia win in Ukraine, former President Donald Trump said Monday in a speech that he “had a very good relationship” with Putin and that he would cut aid to Ukraine in order to help “settle that thing in 24 hours.”

“Continuing to pour money in is delaying everything. It’s delaying a settlement,” Trump told supporters in Florida.

Look for Ukraine to become a major 2024 campaign issue as Trump and Biden prepare to potentially face off again.

29d ago / 5:01 PM UTC

30,000 people attending Biden's speech, per Warsaw official

There are approximately 30,000 people attending Biden's speech at the Royal Palace Gardens in Warsaw, according to the chief of staff to the city mayor, working with Polish security.

29d ago / 5:00 PM UTC

As President Biden spoke in Warsaw about the U.S. commitment to helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia, a prevailing talking point from allies of former President Donald Trump was to accuse Biden of lacking a similar commitment to Americans.

As Jason Miller, who recently returned as an adviser to Trump for his 2024 campaign, tweeted: "If only Joe Biden had a commitment to the people of East Palestine and the surrounding communities…"

29d ago / 5:00 PM UTC

Biden directly addresses people of Russia

Biden said he has a message for the people of Russia: The country’s invasion of Ukraine needs to end.

He took aim at Putin’s remarks earlier, with the Russian leader saying that the West is to blame for the war and that its aggression in Ukraine is a necessity for Russia.

“This war was never a necessity, it is a tragedy,” Biden said.

29d ago / 5:00 PM UTC

Biden's attempt to speak directly to the Russian people is part of his skill at going directly at specific audiences. We saw this at the State of the Union address too, when he engaged in a bit of a back-and-forth with Republican members of Congress who took issue with his remarks on Medicare and Social Security. Typically, presidents just use it as a broad address to the public. But Biden knew that he had to engage with some of the people in the room with him, as well.

29d ago / 4:59 PM UTC
29d ago / 4:59 PM UTC

Biden highlights U.S. unity behind Ukraine

Biden said that Americans are united in their support for Ukraine, saying that Ukrainian flags fly on American homes across the country.

He added that politicians across the political aisle had come together to support Ukraine and "stand for freedom."

"That's what Americans are, and that's what Americans do," Biden said.

29d ago / 4:56 PM UTC

Interesting line from Biden, seeking to drive a wedge between Putin and Russians and rebuking his narrative about the war: “I speak once more to the people of Russia. The United States and the nations of Europe do not seek to seek to control or destroy Russia. 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 neighbors are not the enemy. This war was never a necessity. It’s a tragedy.”

Russia has tried to limit the news reaching the Russian people and western depictions of the invasion.

29d ago / 4:55 PM UTC

Biden describes Russia's atrocities and 'crimes against humanity'

Biden condemned the "extraordinary brutality of Russian forces and mercenaries," who, he said, have committed "crimes against humanity without shame or compunction."

"They’ve targeted civilians with death and destruction, used rape as a weapon of war, stolen Ukrainian children in an attempt to steal Ukraine’s future. Bombed train stations, maternity hospitals, schools and orphanages," Biden said. "No one could turn away their eyes from the atrocities Russia is committing against the Ukrainian people. It’s abhorrent."

Biden said Ukraine's response has been extraordinary as well. "One year after the bombs began to fall, Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine. Ukraine is still independent and free."

29d ago / 4:54 PM UTC

Former U.S. officials and nonproliferation experts I’ve spoken to have noted that there are few people in government still who remember a world, 50 years ago, when Russia and the United States did not have a legally binding agreement constraining their nuclear forces. One person who does remember that world: Joe Biden.

29d ago / 4:53 PM UTC

In America, Republicans accuse labor unions of being the tool of communism. But Biden, a strong backer of labor rights, gave a shoutout to Solidarity, the labor union at the heart of bringing down Russian-style communism in Poland thirty-plus years ago.

“That’s what Solidarity means,” Biden said. “Poland endured because you stood together.” It is a very Bidenesque view of the world to frame fights not in ideological terms but as autocracy vs. democracy — as he has done in this speech and others.

29d ago / 4:53 PM UTC

Biden: 'Democracy will stand guard over freedom today, tomorrow, and forever'

Biden said that the Ukrainian people’s love for their country will prevail and that democracy will “stand guard over freedom today, tomorrow and forever.”

“That’s the message I carried to Kyiv yesterday,” he said.

29d ago / 4:53 PM UTC

Biden put a lot of emphasis on this line: “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia. Never.” It underscores that his administration’s commitment to the country could be for the long-term, even as some Republicans in Congress start to get uneasy with the amount of aid. 

29d ago / 4:52 PM UTC

The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw invited not only leaders and dignitaries to Biden’s speech, but the general public, according to the White House pool report. There’s even an overflow area for people who don’t make it into the gated section of the speech where they can watch on big screens.

Some things are the same wherever the president goes — seemingly the entire crowd has their phones out and up to snap shots of Biden.

29d ago / 4:51 PM UTC

Polish President Duda pledges 'solidarity' with Ukraine

Polish President Duda promised unwavering support for Ukraine in remarks delivered ahead of Biden's speech Tuesday.

"We stand in solidarity with Ukraine and we will stand in solidarity with Ukraine," Duda said. "There is no freedom without solidarity."

29d ago / 4:51 PM UTC

Biden: Putin thought 'autocrats like himself were tough' and democratic leaders were soft

Biden said that NATO has more "united and more unified than ever before" and took aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"He thought autocrats like himself were tough and leaders of democracy were soft," said Biden, who added that Putin met the will of America and that nations globally refuse "to accept the world governed by fear and force."

"He found himself at war with a nation led by a man whose courage would be forged in fire and steel — President Zelenskyy," he said, saying Putin is confronted today with something that he likely didn't think would exist a year earlier. "The democracies of the world have grown stronger, not weaker, but the autocrats in the world have gotten weaker, not stronger."

29d ago / 4:50 PM UTC

“Finlandization of NATO?” Biden is known for his verbal flubs, but this one is actually jargon, not jumble.

“Finlandization” is foreign policy term that refers to a big country dominating a weaker one, without actually conquering it. It refers to how the Soviet Union dominated Finland during the Cold War.

29d ago / 4:49 PM UTC

Biden places the blame squarely on the shoulders of Putin in his speech. It’s a marked contrast to Donald Trump, who has essentially blamed Biden for being weak against the Russian leader. In a speech on Monday, Trump said, “Putin never, ever would have gone into Ukraine if I were president,” Trump told supporters at a Florida rally, saying he “actually had a very good relationship” with Putin.

From the beginning of Russia’s invasion, Trump has resisted criticizing Putin too harshly and instead gone after Biden. He initially called Putin “smart” for seeing an opportunity to invade, while also claiming that the war happened because of the “rigged” 2020 presidential election.

29d ago / 4:47 PM UTC

Biden: 'Kyiv stands proud, Kyiv stands strong'

At the top of his remarks, Biden said that after visiting Ukraine, “Kyiv stands strong, Kyiv stands proud" despite Russia's assault.

“It stands tall and most importantly, it stands free,” the president said.

29d ago / 4:46 PM UTC

Biden began his speech by drawing attention to the fact that he traveled to Kyiv — a historic trip to a war zone for a sitting president.

We should expect Biden to invoke this trip continuously for the next year. It can be used to up his credibility on talking about Ukraine and to draw attention to the fact that he is fully invested in defeating Russia. That is something that could help him with his Republican critics in Washington.

29d ago / 4:46 PM UTC

Biden: Nearly one year ago, Putin 'unleashed his murderous asssault on Ukraine'

Biden began his speech by saying he was in Warsaw nearly one year ago, weeks after Russian President "Vladimir Putin had unleashed his murderous assault on Ukraine, the largest land war in Europe since World War II had begun."

Biden said "the principles that had been the cornerstone of peace, prosperity and stability on this planet, for more than 75 years, were at risk of being shattered."

The president said the world was "bracing for the fall of Kyiv" but he said he just returned from the capital of Ukraine and declared that the city still stands.

29d ago / 4:40 PM UTC

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, Biden says about Russia’s decision to unilaterally suspend the New START nuclear arms-reduction treaty.

The treaty may have been destined for expiration in 2026 anyway: there was a big fight over it in the Senate in 2010, and partisan tensions over Russia policy have both been scrambled and intensified since then. But the verify part of Reagan’s famous “trust but verify” formulation is now gone. And with it, we may have seen the end of one-on-one nuclear agreements with Russia. That’s a real cost to the U.S.

29d ago / 4:40 PM UTC

Poland is giving Biden a majestic backdrop for his speech, reminiscent of a presidential inauguration, with the stage framed by stairways leading to a grand public building looming behind — except it’s a castle, not the U.S. Capitol.

The venue is the Kubicki Arkades, part of the Royal Castle complex in Warsaw. Thousands were expected to attend the outdoor speech, which will be carried live by all major TV networks, according to the White House pool report. 

29d ago / 4:40 PM UTC

'Hello Poland!': Biden begins speaking, will name-check Putin

Biden has taken the stage here in Warsaw, where he is expected to proclaim that as the war enters its second year, the United States and its allies remain united in their support for Ukraine’s effort to beat back the Russian invasion.

“You can expect to hear Mr. Putin by name many times in the speech,” an administration official told NBC News before the speech.

29d ago / 4:31 PM UTC

Ron DeSantis wades into the Ukraine aid debate

As GOP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ramps up for a possible presidential bid, he’s starting to weigh in on foreign policy. In an interview on Fox News Monday, DeSantis criticized the Biden administration for having a "blank check policy" toward Ukraine, saying "it would behoove them to identify what is the strategic objective they're trying to achieve."

He said Russia is not as much of a threat as China and worried about the U.S. commitment getting out of control: "These things can escalate, and I don’t think it’s in our interest to be getting into a proxy war, with China getting involved, over things like the borderlands or over Crimea."

DeSantis' stance reflects part of a growing split within the GOP over whether the U.S. should continue aiding Ukraine. As a member of Congress during the Obama administration, DeSantis voted to back aid to Ukraine and condemn Russia's actions toward the country.

29d ago / 4:12 PM UTC

The crowd waiting for Biden's speech in Poland is being treated to some early speeches and music.

The current selection? "You Can't Hurry Love" by The Supremes. Might be a reminder for NATO leaders to just hold on a bit longer.

29d ago / 3:29 PM UTC

G-7 foreign ministers condemn violations of Ukraine's sovereignty

Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven, an alliance of the world's largest economies, condemned Russian aggression and pledged never to recognize the country's "illegal annexation" of Ukrainian territory in a statement released Tuesday.

"We will impose further economic costs on Russia, and on individuals and entities — inside and outside of Russia — that provide political or economic support to these violations of international law," they said. "We are unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s right to defend itself against Russia’s war of aggression and its unquestionable right to reclaim its territory from Russia."

The foreign ministers specifically named the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as part of Ukraine’s territory. They also took aim at Russia's "irresponsible" nuclear rhetoric and pledged that it would not hinder their support for Ukraine.

29d ago / 3:28 PM UTC

Biden and Polish president reflect on shared efforts to support Ukraine in bilateral meeting

President Joe Biden and Polish President Andrzej Duda reflected on their shared efforts to support Ukraine, impose consequences on Russia and strengthen NATO during their bilateral meeting in Warsaw on Tuesday, according a White House readout.

Biden praised the support of the people of Poland for welcoming more than 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees into their communities. The leaders also discussed their country’s’ growing cooperation in the energy sector, including civil nuclear energy, their bilateral defense relationship and the importance of democratic values.

29d ago / 2:57 PM UTC

Polish president thanks Biden for his visit to Ukraine


Polish President Andrzej Duda thanked President Joe Biden for his trip to Ukraine in remarks during their bilateral meeting at the presidential palace in Warsaw.

He spoke about the importance of Biden's visit to Kyiv yesterday as he condemned Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“Thank you once again for your visit yesterday, Mr. President, because that was a significant sign for all those above — a sign that free world has not forgotten them,” Duda said through a translator.

29d ago / 2:33 PM UTC

Russian attack on a Kherson bus station kills at least 6 civilians

Six civilians were killed and 12 were wounded as Russian forces shelled a bus station in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson on Tuesday, Ukraine's military said.

"The Russian army is heavily shelling Kherson," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on the messaging app Telegram. "Again mercilessly killing the civilian population. A vehicle park, residential areas, a high-rise building, and a public transport stop were hit."

The southern military command said in a statement that the attack occurred while Putin addressed the Russian people in a speech that claimed, without evidence, that his country was not at war with the Ukrainian people.

Kherson had been occupied by Russian forces for eight months until Ukrainian troops entered the city in early November.

29d ago / 1:18 PM UTC

Photo: Protest sign raised outside Biden's hotel in Warsaw

A sign reading “Mr. Biden, send F-16 to Ukraine” is raised outside the hotel where the president is staying in Warsaw, Poland, on Tuesday.

29d ago / 1:17 PM UTC

NATO chief urges Russia to reconsider New START and pledges support for Ukraine

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday expressed regret over Russia's decision to suspend its nuclear arms treaty with the United States.

"With today’s decision on New START, the whole arms control architecture has been dismantled," he said, adding, "I strongly encourage Russia to reconsider its decision and respect existing agreements."

Stoltenberg added that NATO will continue to support Ukraine "for as long as it takes."

"We must make clear that Ukraine’s future is within the Euro-Atlantic family," he said. "When the war ends, we need to put in place arrangements for Ukraine’s security to ensure that Russia doesn’t continue to chip away at European security and to break the cycle of Russian aggression."

29d ago / 1:11 PM UTC

WARSAW, Poland — More than anything he might say in his speech Tuesday, President Joe Biden demonstrated a personal commitment to Ukraine’s survival when he slipped into the war zone unannounced Monday and put his own safety at risk.

A presidential speech matters, though, and Biden’s will celebrate the resilience of a small, democratic state facing a bigger autocracy bent on expansion, administration officials said.

Speaking in the gardens of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Biden will also proclaim that as the war enters its second year, the U.S. and its allies remain united in their support for Ukraine’s effort to beat back the Russian invasion.

“His remarks will speak specifically to the conflict in Ukraine, but they will also speak to the larger contest between those aggressors who are trying to destroy fundamental principles and those democracies who are pulling together to try to uphold them,” Jake Sullivan, the White House’s national security adviser, said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. “You will hear in this speech vintage Joe Biden. The president has believed passionately in the themes he will discuss tonight for decades.”

29d ago / 12:54 PM UTC

Photo: Military honor guard for Biden in Warsaw

President Joe Biden and Polish President Andrzej Duda review a military honor guard during a welcome ceremony prior to talks at the presidential palace in Warsaw on Tuesday.

Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images
29d ago / 12:53 PM UTC

Russian intelligence service says it gave no security guarantees to Biden during his Kyiv visit

The Russian intelligence agency FSB did not give any security guarantees to President Joe Biden during his visit to Kyiv, Director Alexander Bortnikov said.

"The United States did notify Russia about Biden's visit to Kyiv — through the diplomatic line. We did not give guarantees of his safety," he told the Shot Telegram channel in an interview, adding that the cooperation between the two countries' special services continues.

"There is this cooperation, but of course, it is not at the level it was before, so no one benefits from this. Everyone is interested in maintaining relations," he said.

29d ago / 12:34 PM UTC

Photo: Biden in Warsaw

President Joe Biden is welcomed by Polish President Andrzej Duda for talks at the presidential palace in Warsaw on Tuesday.

Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images
29d ago / 12:22 PM UTC

Russia's suspension of nuclear agreement 'deeply unfortunate and irresponsible,' Blinken says

, and

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday called Russia's suspension of its participation in the New START treaty "deeply unfortunate and irresponsible," adding the U.S. will "be watching carefully to see what Russia actually does."

"We’ll of course make sure that, in any event, we are postured appropriately for the security of our country and our allies," he said.

New START is the last nuclear treaty between the two countries.

"You know, when the administration started, we extended New START because it was clearly in the security interest in our country and actually in the security interests of Russia," Blinken said. "And that only underscores what an irresponsible action this is."

A senior administration official told NBC News, “We remain ready to discuss it with the Russians. Arms control is too big an issue, too vital, not to find ways to keep it in place, no matter what else is going on.”

29d ago / 12:09 PM UTC

Russia summons U.S. ambassador

Russia summoned the U.S. ambassador to Moscow on Tuesday over what it said was America's expanding involvement in "hostilities on the side of the Kyiv regime," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Moscow also accused the U.S. of being a "party to the conflict" by supplying Ukrainian armed forces with weaponry and intelligence.

As it summoned Ambassador Lynne Tracy, the Foreign Ministry said that the U.S. must "withdraw" NATO and U.S. military personnel and equipment.

The U.S. and NATO have sent billions of dollars worth of weapons and general aid to Ukraine, but have not deployed forces to fight.

29d ago / 11:51 AM UTC

Photo: Preparations ahead of Biden's speech in Warsaw

Biden is visiting Poland a day after an unannounced visit to Kyiv to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, that comes days before the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Michael Dyjuk / AP

Security personnel guard the area near the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit.

29d ago / 11:43 AM UTC

Head of Wagner mercenary group accuses Russia's top brass of treason


The man responsible for some of Russia’s only battlefield victories has accused the country’s defense minister of treason.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, a mercenary organization behind brutal campaigns to take towns in Ukraine’s east, said Tuesday that Russia’s top brass was depriving his private army of weapons.

Prigozhin said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was responsible for higher than necessary losses by actively impeding the flow of munitions and access to air support, the latest development in a monthslong rift between Moscow’s military and its shadow army.

“There is simply direct opposition going on,” Prigozhin said in a voice message posted on his Telegram channel, according to the Reuters news agency. “This can be equated to high treason.”

29d ago / 11:17 AM UTC

Russian state media websites go offline during Putin's address

Russian state media websites broadcasting President Vladimir Putin's annual address to the nation’s parliament Tuesday appeared to be knocked offline as he delivered his speech.

The official website for the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) outlet appeared to go dark during the key annual address, which unfolded as the world prepares to mark one year since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine.

As of 5:30 a.m. ET, an error page still appeared on the website, with the message: “TECHNICAL WORKS ARE UNDERWAY.” A video platform broadcasting Putin’s address also appeared to be down. By 6 a.m. ET, both websites appeared to be back up and running.

The state-run RIA Novosti news agency said the issue was the result of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, according to Reuters. NBC News was unable to independently verify the reason for the outage.

29d ago / 11:16 AM UTC

Belarus says Ukrainian troops massing near its border


Russian ally Belarus said Tuesday that Ukrainian forces were massing near its border.

"A significant grouping of the Ukrainian army is concentrated in the immediate vicinity of the Belarusian-Ukrainian section of the state border," the Belarus Defense Ministry said in a post, according to Reuters.

"The probability of armed provocations, which can escalate into border incidents, has been high for a long time," it said, adding that it would take "measures to adequately respond."

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko threatened that the country would join the war Feb. 16 if his country was attacked. For months, Kyiv has expressed its worries about the possibility that Belarus will join the war with Russia.

29d ago / 11:12 AM UTC

Russia to suspend its last nuclear agreement with the U.S.

Russia is suspending participation in the so-called New START, a key nuclear arms control treaty, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

"We are not exiting the agreement," he said. "We are putting a hold on it."

The New START, which had been renewed for another five years in 2021, days before it was set to expire, is the last nuclear treaty between the two countries. Renewing the agreement was one of the first national security challenges facing President Joe Biden’s administration.

29d ago / 10:53 AM UTC

China's top diplomat to visit Russia

China's top diplomat Wang Yi will visit Russia, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin announced Tuesday, amid Western fears that the two countries would forge closer ties.

The announcement of the widely expected trip came as Foreign Minister Qin Gang said China was "deeply worried" about the war in Ukraine escalating.

China has long refrained from condemning Moscow for the invasion, and on Monday hit back at U.S. allegations that it may be providing Russia nonlethal military assistance.

29d ago / 10:39 AM UTC

U.S. to boost measures against evading sanctions

The United States will intensify coordination with its allies and companies to prevent Russia from evading sanctions it has imposed, Deputy Secretary of Treasury Wally Adeyemo said.

"We’re making it harder for Russia to build the military equipment they need and harder for them to use the dwindling money they have to source it from abroad," he said, as Western officials look for more ways to cut Russia's financing of its war in Ukraine, now nearing its first anniversary.

Among the products that will fall under the new measures are refrigerators, which are being purchased for their semiconductors, Adeyemo said.

"Our goal is to further increase the cost that Russia will pay to evade our sanctions going forward," he said, adding that the U.S. will pressure jurisdictions and corporations to choose between serving Russia or the West.

29d ago / 10:25 AM UTC

Photo: Biden lands in Warsaw

US President Joe Biden Visits Warsaw
Omar Marques / Getty Images

President Joe Biden arrives in Warsaw, Poland, late Monday.

29d ago / 10:12 AM UTC

Head of Ukrainian railroads hails Biden's trip on 'RailForceOne'

The CEO of Ukraine's state-owned railway system hailed President Joe Biden's trip on the network during his surprise visit to the country.

"It was an honor and a privilege for me and the whole #IronTeam of Ukrainian Railways to deal with this visit. I must say, it was complicated. But we did it. That’s how #RailForceOne appeared," Alexander Kamyshin wrote on Twitter.

Biden, who famously commuted from Washington to his home in Delaware daily on Amtrak, is known to be fond of trains.

Meanwhile, Ukraine Railways has been credited with helping the country survive the Russian invasion, withstanding deadly bomb attacks to transport goods and people throughout the country.

29d ago / 9:55 AM UTC

Photo: View from Putin's lectern

Mikhail Metzel / AFP - Getty Images

Dignitaries gather for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual state of the nation address in central Moscow on Thursday.

29d ago / 9:55 AM UTC

Russia to build additional highway to Crimea, Putin says

Russia will build a new highway to Crimea to better connect itself with the peninsula it annexed in 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin told parliament Tuesday.

"We will create a new highway to Crimea and connect it to the rest of Russia and all regions of Russia, providing direct support to cities and towns of Donetsk and Luhank and other regions," he said as he unveiled a raft of economic plans during an annual address.

Russia's existing signature link to Crimea, the Kerch Bridge, was set ablaze after an explosion in October, severely damaging Russia's ability to resupply its southern troops. Russia had expected to topple the government of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy swiftly after the invasion a year ago, but its forces have become bogged down after a robust Ukrainian response.

Putin also said Russia "will continue our program of social restoration" of the four eastern regions of Ukraine — Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — which it claims to have annexed in September. This is despite Russia's failure to prevent Ukraine from retaking control of large swaths of the region.

29d ago / 9:34 AM UTC

Photo: Putin addresses Russian parliament

Russia Putin Federal Assembly Address
Pavel Bednyakov / Sputnik via AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address to the Federal Assembly, including lawmakers of the State Duma, members of the Federation Council, regional governors and other officials in Moscow on Tuesday.

29d ago / 9:32 AM UTC

Putin claims Kyiv and its western allies started the war

Days before the anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin claimed Ukraine and its Western allies had starting of the war.

"They started it," Putin told lawmakers in Moscow.

On Feb. 24, 2022, thousands of Russian forces crossed the border into Ukraine, launching a major conflict that has destabilized the world order and isolated Russia. This followed the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, and years of supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Many anticipate Putin's long-delayed state-of-the-nation speech to set the tone for the year ahead and shed light on how the Kremlin sees its bogged-down war, which it officially calls a "special military operation."

29d ago / 9:13 AM UTC

Photo: Quiet streets outside the Kremlin ahead of Putin speech

Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Red Square in central Moscow is closed for security reasons prior to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state of the nation address on Tuesday.

29d ago / 9:02 AM UTC

China 'deeply worried' over escalation of war

China is "deeply worried" about the war in Ukraine spiraling out of control, the country's foreign minister said Tuesday.

"We urge certain countries to immediately stop fueling the fire, stop shifting blame to China and stop touting Ukraine today, Taiwan tomorrow," Qin Gang told a security conference in Beijing, in an apparent dig at the United States and its allies' support towards both Ukraine and Taiwan.

"Since the outbreak of the crisis, China has taken an objective and impartial stance based on the merits of the issues," he said.

While China has long refrained from condemning Moscow for its invasion, he said China was seeking "common security" and was ready to promote dialogue and consultation towards ending the crisis.

29d ago / 8:40 AM UTC

Russian ruble weakens ahead of Putin address to parliament

This content was produced in Russia, where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.

MOSCOW — The ruble weakened on Tuesday despite increased demand for the currency as Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares to address lawmakers on the Ukraine conflict.

Early Tuesday, the ruble was 0.7% weaker against the dollar at 75.05, edging closer to an almost 10-month low of 75.30 hit on Friday.

The currency is usually in greater demand before month-end taxes are due on Feb. 28, when exporters typically convert their foreign currency revenue.

“The weakening in the first half of February is to a large degree linked with psychological pessimism over the expectation of new sanctions,” said Andrei Kochetkov, lead analyst at Otkritie Research.

29d ago / 8:36 AM UTC
29d ago / 8:33 AM UTC
Image: President Joe Biden, right, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hug as they say goodbye at the Memorial Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine in Russian-Ukrainian War with photos of killed soldiers, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Feb. 20, 2023.
President Joe Biden, right, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hug as they say goodbye at the Memorial Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine in Kyiv on Monday.Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP
29d ago / 8:33 AM UTC

Some House Republicans criticize Biden for trip into Ukraine


Biden’s surprise trip to Ukraine on Monday drew a range of attacks from conservative Republicans who accused him of neglecting issues back at home, including the southern border.

Read more here.

29d ago / 8:32 AM UTC

Rep. Jason Crow on why he thinks Biden should send Ukraine F-16s

Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., is one of five lawmakers hailing from both parties who signed a letter pressing Biden to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine — military assistance Biden has previously said the U.S. would not be willing to provide.

Crow said in an interview on "Andrea Mitchell Reports" Monday that Ukraine needs the jets in order “to go on the offensive and retake territory as soon as the mud season ends, otherwise the Russians will rebuild their military power and will continue to try to press this fight.”

The fourth-generation fights would give Ukraine a chance at establishing air superiority, "which they haven't been able to do since the first days of the war," Crow added.

29d ago / 8:32 AM UTC

Surprise and joy greeted Biden as Kyiv's mystery guest


Before news of Biden’s secret trip filtered out, residents of the Ukrainian capital reported closed roads and unusual traffic jams, stoking the social media rumor mill with suggestions of a high-profile guest.

Few expected to see the president of the United States walking around the center of town soon after, an unannounced ambassador of hope that the Western alliance backing Ukraine's defense against the Kremlin’s attacks can remain strong.

Evheniy Lazarenko, 30, told NBC News he was surprised given the dangers involved, which made Biden’s presence all the more appreciated. Read more from on the ground in Kyiv here.

29d ago / 8:32 AM UTC