Warsaw, Poland–(ENEWSPF)–March 18, 2014 – 3:47 P.M. (Local)
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Mr. President, thank you very much. Let me begin where you ended. Russia has increased their budget. But I want to remind you, you have an ally whose budget is larger than the next 10 nations in the world combined. So while others may not have stood up to their responsibilities, the United States has more than stood up to its responsibilities. We have a budget larger than the next 10 nations in the world combined, so don’t worry about where we are. Number one.
Number two, Mr. President, my mother used to have a saying — she’d say, you’re defined by your courage and you are redeemed by your loyalty. Well, I doubt there’s another nation on Earth that would better fit that description than Poland. The Polish coat of arms, the Solidarity flag hanging here over us, the Polish constitution in this room — it strikes me that I don’t think there’s a country in the world that knows better than Poland both the bitter cost of aggression and the sweetness of liberty.
Today, Mr. President, the people of Ukraine are reaching for that very same right and freedoms that the Poles cherish. They want a government that serves its people and they want the right to free expression, the chance to choose Ukraine’s path and affiliations as a united nation without fear of coercion. That’s their goal, what you’ve accomplished.
They understand that the verdict of history is absolutely clear: Societies like Poland that embrace these values — openness, freedom, the respect for the rule of law — they are the countries that own and will own the future. Those that bet instead on aggression and fear-mongering are bound to fail. And so we look to our Polish friends who made the journey of freedom within our lifetime to exercise leadership in helping Ukraine follow in your footsteps.
Today, Mr. President, we spoke about a situation that’s unfolding in Ukraine. We agreed on the need for the United States, Poland and our European friends to stand together in supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, rejecting Russia’s absolutely illegitimate claims and steps to annex Crimea, and imposing costs on Russia and Mr. Putin for Russian aggression while making it clear there is a better path if they choose to take it, and helping the Ukrainian people and their government as they chart a new future.
As we proceed, Mr. President, I want to make it unmistakingly clear to you and to all our allies in the region that our commitment to mutual self-defense under Article 5 of NATO remains ironclad. It is not in question. It is ironclad.
Fifteen years ago, I was honored, as the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, to lead the fight for Poland’s admission into NATO — in other words, to put that very commitment, that very commitment of Article 5, put that in place for Poland. Have no doubt, the United States will honor its commitments. We always do.
And today, Mr. President, you and I spoke about the steps that have been taken in recent days to bolster our security presence in Europe, including deployment of 12 American F-16 fighter jets and hundreds of American servicemen to Poland. We’ve also discussed new opportunities for training and exercises that we’ll pursue through NATO here in Poland. As I said earlier today, our missile defense plans continue on schedule, including our firm commitment to place an operational missile defense site here in Poland by 2018.
And for its part, Poland has launched an impressive effort to modernize its military. It stands as an excellent example for all in NATO. The United States looks forward to being a strong partner in your effort to modernize, Mr. President, of course. Our partnership and our discussions extended far beyond militaries. We also spoke extensively about our work together in the advance of trade and energy security.
Mr. President, President Obama and I want the Polish people to know that there is a deep, deep commitment to Poland that lives in the hearts of a vast majority of Americans. And I’m sure any Pole who has ever visited America — the United States has felt it. It’s real. It’s deep.
And if you’ll excuse, as we used to say when I was in the United States Senate, Mr. President, a point of personal privilege — there‘s a Polish cavalryman’s sword presented to me by your predecessor, by your government, that hangs proudly in my family home. It’s a small token of the value many Americans place on our countries’ friendship, and a value I place on your country’s friendship and yours.
May God bless Poland, and may God protect our troops. We are together.
3:53 P.M. (Local)