1 of 9 | U.S. President Joe Biden (L) is greeted by Polish President Andrzej Duda during a welcoming ceremony ahead of their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw on Tuesday. Photo by Marek Borawski/KPRP/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 21 (UPI) -- In a speech in Poland on Tuesday night, U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the people of Russia, saying Moscow's invasion of Ukraine was "never a necessity" but a war of choice by President Vladimir Putin.
Drawing a contrast from Putin's own State of the Nation address in Moscow where he said the Kremlin had no choice but to attack Ukraine, Biden responded directly to Putin's words during remarks from the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
"We are not plotting to attack Russia, as Putin said today," Biden said in a dramatic response to the Russian leader hours after he gave his speech in from of Moscow political leaders. "Millions of Russian citizens only want to live in peace and their neighbors are not the enemy.
"President Putin chose this war. Every day the war continues it's his choice. He can end the war with a word. It's simple. If Russia would stop invading Ukraine, it would end the war. If Ukraine stopped defending itself against Russia, it would be the end of Ukraine."
Biden said the United States and its allies are working to make sure Ukraine has the ability to defend itself because its existence depends on it. He said a coalition of 50 nations is working to give Ukraine aid and supplies to defend against Russia.
Ukraine has reclaimed about 50% of the land Russia controlled this time last year, showing resolve, Biden said.
"One year after the bombs began to fall and Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, Ukraine is still independent and free," Biden said. "From Kherson to Kharkiv, Ukrainian fighters have reclaimed their land. President Zelensky still leads a democratically elected government that represents the will of the Ukrainian people.
"The world has already voted multiple times, including the United Nations General Assembly, to condemn Russia's aggression."
Biden said he believed Putin sought to test the will of the United States and its European allies to get involved, like past aggressions when Russia took Crimea in 2014.
"We did respond, we would be strong," Biden told the crowd. "We would be united and the world would not look the other way."
Biden called it an "honor" to stand with Zelensky in Kyiv as he made a surprise visit on Monday, nearly a year after Russia failed to take control of the capital.
"When President Putin ordered his tanks to roll into Ukraine, he thought that we would roll over. He was wrong. The Ukrainian people are too brave. America, Europe and a coalition of nations from the Atlantic to the Pacific were too unified.
"He thought NATO would fracture and divide. Today, NATO is stronger and more unified than ever. ... One year into this war, Putin no longer doubts the strength of this coalition but he still doubts our conviction. He doubts our staying power. He doubts our continued support for Ukraine.
"Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia. For free people refuses to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness."
In a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda ahead of the speech, the White House said the two leaders talked about their shared efforts to support Ukraine and impose penalties on Russia.
Biden praised Duda and Poland for their support, particularly in welcoming more than 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees. They also addressed growing cooperation in the energy sector, developing a stronger bilateral defense relationship and strengthening democratic values.
Duda said Biden's surprise trip to Kyiv was "spectacular." In return, Biden said the United States will remain a strong ally of Ukraine, Poland and other Central and European nations.
On Tuesday before his speech, Biden said Poland's support for Ukraine was "truly extraordinary."
"The connection between Polish and American people is extremely strong and deep," Biden said. "A lot of challenges we have to face but I'm confident we can do it together."