Polish president says it is “difficult to deny” genocide in Ukraine after photos of civilians appear

“Of course it is difficult to deny this. “This is a crime that has the characteristics of genocide, especially if you look at the context of the various conversations that are going on,” Duda told Dana Bash of CNN in an exclusive interview in Warsaw. , Poland.

Duda said Russian propaganda about Moscow’s goal of “depopulating” Ukraine showed that the country was looking for false premises “to carry out massacres.”

“The fact that the civilian population of Ukraine is being killed clearly shows what the goal is [the] “The Russian invasion is,” he said through a translator. “The purpose of that invasion is simply to extinguish the Ukrainian people.”

Duda, who was first elected president of Poland in 2015 and has served through three US governments, is leading the country as it plays a key role in supporting Ukraine in the fight against Russia, struggling with the influx of Ukrainian refugees, pushing for further sanctions. on Russia and supplies Ukraine with weapons.

Millions of Ukrainians have fled across the country to Poland. As a member of the NATO Alliance, Poland has been one of the countries where US and NATO troops have come together to strengthen the eastern side of NATO as a deterrent to Russia.

There have also been some challenges. Ukraine sought Poland’s MiG-29 fighter jets to help fight Russia, but efforts to bring the planes to Ukraine fell apart after Poland publicly offered to supply them to the United States through a German air base to send them to Ukraine. The United States said such a plan was not feasible and the planes were not sent.

US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that “major war crimes” were being uncovered in response to Bucha’s photos, although he had stopped marking Russia’s genocide attacks. The Biden administration has announced another new round of sanctions against Russia’s largest financial institutions and a number of individuals linked to the Kremlin, including two adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The sanctions system should be strengthened”

In the interview, Duda questioned the usefulness of diplomatic efforts with Russia at this point in the conflict. He said he was not surprised by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron this week, when Morawiecki said: “Nobody signed with Hitler.

“Talks with Russia have no purpose,” Duda said. “You have to set very difficult conditions for Vladimir Putin. You have to say, ‘Unless you meet those conditions, we have nothing to talk about.’ “If you make talks that do not work, then it’s just a game to buy time for Russia.”

As part of these conditions, Duda called for further sanctions against Russia and the energy sector, and lamented that Europe relied on Russian energy, which has continued even as crippling sanctions have been imposed in other sectors.

“The sanctions system should be strengthened. I have no doubt about that,” Duda said. “Of course, this is a very complex task … The problem, however, is that for some countries this is fundamental to them.”

Duda noted that the Poles were opposed to the construction of a gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, saying that these were “political projects” aimed at bypassing Poland and the Baltic countries. He called for the new Nord Stream II pipeline to be dismantled.

“Russia is not only oppressing Germany, now Russia is oppressing, in fact, all of Europe,” Duda said. “The fact that we are saying that it is impossible to impose a trade embargo on Russian gas, it is not possible to impose a trade embargo on Russian oil immediately.

“He is my direct neighbor”

Duda said he speaks to Zelensky perhaps most often among world leaders. “He’s my direct neighbor. He’s my colleague,” Duda said. “I have this deep feeling that we must do everything we can to help Ukraine. Yes, this is a feeling that I have not only felt because of the need to provide security for Poland, we want the Ukrainian state to exist as independent, sovereign and free. . “

The Polish leader said he suspected part of Putin’s policy was to try to destabilize Poland and other neighboring countries with Ukraine’s refugee problems, but said his country had managed to control the influx of refugees who have fled Ukraine so far.

“To a certain extent, I am proud of my countrymen who help, the thousands of political volunteers who give their heart, they do not sleep at night, to help the Ukrainian refugees,” said Duda. “I am deeply grateful to them, for them. But on the other hand, I realize how much this obligation is for our country and our society. And that is why I ask for international aid everywhere. And we are getting this aid. . “

Duda acknowledged that he was concerned that the war in Ukraine would reach Poland and said that there should be little doubt that Poland could be threatened by Moscow in the future.

“In a situation where Russian attacks on Ukraine, which the military calls a valid invasion, I do not think in these circumstances there is any doubt that Poland is potentially threatened by a Russian attack in the future,” Duda said. “That’s why we need to spend on our defense.

“Lively” and “fertile” relationship

During the 2020 election campaign, Biden was critical of Poland, pushing in with Hungary and Belarus to warn of an increase in totalitarian regimes and to criticize then-President Donald Trump for embracing “the world’s thugs.” But Duda had nothing but warm words for Biden in Wednesday’s interview, saying he values ​​his relationship with all three US presidents he has served alongside.

“Friendship with the United States, this military alliance is very important to us,” Duda said, noting that the 82nd US Air Force was now in Poland. “I am very happy that my cooperation with the President of the United States today is so lively, it is so good, so fruitful. And I sincerely believe that President Joe Biden is happy with his visit to Poland, that he believes it. “It was an important and good visit. Thanks to that visit, he was also able to see with his own eyes this picture of the situation.”

Asked if he can sleep well at night as long as Putin is in power, Duda said: “I do not sleep well … because I know what is going on behind the border.

“Can the leader of a neighboring country sleep well in such a situation? It is very difficult, and there is certainly a lot of tension, there is a lot of pressure I am under,” he continued. “But precisely because of this, I believe I should do this. I should do everything I can to help in this situation. I should do everything I can to ensure that Ukraine defends itself. I should do everything “I can stop Putin. Today it is in the interests of Ukraine, but it is also in the interests of my country, Poland, my countrymen. It is also in the interests of all of Central Europe.”

Following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Duda said he hoped the international community “will never talk to Vladimir Putin again”.

“I hope no one is going to see him as a decent and fair leader, or simply a politician,” Duda said.

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