Poland’s president said it was “hard to deny” the genocide in Ukraine after photos surfaced of civilians killed

“It’s hard to deny, of course,” Duda told CNN’s Dana Bach in an exclusive interview in Warsaw. “This is a crime that fulfills the hallmarks of genocide, especially if you look at the context of the various conversations that are taking place.” , Poland.

Duda said Russian propaganda about Moscow’s goal of “dishonoring” Ukraine showed that the country was looking for a false pretext “in order to commit a massacre”.

“The fact that the civilian population of Ukraine is being killed shows best what the goal is. [the] Through an interpreter, he said, the Russian invasion was “the aim of that invasion is simply to extinguish the Ukrainian nation.”

Duda, who was first elected president of Poland in 2015 and has served through three US administrations, leads the country as it plays a key role in supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia, struggles with the influx of Ukrainian refugees, pushes for more sanctions on Russia and supplies Ukraine with weapons.

Millions of Ukrainians fled across the country’s borders to Poland. As a member of NATO, Poland was one of the countries where US and NATO forces were deployed to support NATO’s eastern flank as a deterrent to Russia.

There were some challenges, too. Ukraine has sought Polish MiG-29 fighter jets to aid in its fight against Russia, but efforts to move the planes to Ukraine collapsed after Poland publicly suggested supplying them to the United States through a German air base for shipment to Ukraine. The United States said such a plan was futile, and the planes were not sent.

US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that “major war crimes” had been discovered in response to the images from Bosha, though he stopped short of calling the Russian attacks genocide. The Biden administration announced another new round of sanctions against Russia’s largest financial institutions and the number of individuals linked to the Kremlin, including the two adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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The sanctions regime 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 this week of French President Emmanuel Macron, when “No one negotiated with Hitler,” Morawiecki said.

“Dialogue with Russia is meaningless,” Duda said. “One has to offer very difficult conditions to Vladimir Putin. One has to say, ‘Unless you meet these conditions, we have nothing to talk about.’ This is just a game to buy time by Russia.”

As part of these terms, Duda called for additional sanctions on Russia and its energy sector, bemoaning Europe’s dependence on Russian energy that has persisted even as crippling sanctions are imposed in other sectors.

“The sanctions regime must be strengthened,” Duda said. “I have absolutely no doubts about that.” “This is of course a very complex task … but the problem is that for some countries, this is fundamental to them.”

Duda noted that Poland opposed the construction of gas pipelines between Russia and Germany, saying that they were “political projects” aimed at bypassing Poland and the Baltic states. He called for the dismantling of the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

“Russia is blackmailing not only Germany, at the moment, Russia is blackmailing, in fact, the whole of Europe,” Duda said. “The fact that we say that it is impossible to impose an embargo on Russian gas, it is not possible to impose an embargo on Russian oil immediately,” he added.

“It’s my direct neighbor”

Duda said he talks to Zelensky perhaps most often among world leaders. “He’s my immediate neighbour,” Duda said. “He’s my colleague.” “I have a deep feeling that we must do everything to help Ukraine. Yes, this is the feeling that stems from not only the necessity of providing security for Poland, but we want the Ukrainian state to be independent, sovereign and free.”

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The Polish leader said he suspected part of Putin’s strategy was to try to destabilize Poland and other neighboring countries with a refugee crisis from Ukraine, but said his country had managed the influx of refugees fleeing Ukraine so far.

“To some extent, I am proud of my countrymen who help, for the thousands of political volunteers who show their hearts, they do not sleep at night, in order to help Ukrainian refugees,” Duda said. “I am so grateful to them, for them. But on the other hand, I am aware of how great a burden this is on our country and our society. That is why I am appealing for international help everywhere. And we are getting that help.”

Duda admitted that he was concerned about the spillover of the war in Ukraine to Poland, and said that there should be no doubt that Poland might be threatened by Moscow in the future.

“In the case of Russian aggression against Ukraine, which the military calls a full-fledged invasion, I think that under these conditions, no one has the slightest doubt that Poland may be threatened by Russian aggression in the future,” Duda said. Because of that, we need to spend on our defensive potential.

A ‘lively’ and ‘fruitful’ relationship

During the 2020 campaign, Biden criticized Poland, including it alongside Hungary and Belarus to warn of the rise of totalitarian regimes and criticize then-President Donald Trump for embracing “thugs of the world.” But Duda had only warm words for Biden in an interview on Wednesday, saying he values ​​his relationship with all three US presidents he has served alongside.

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“Friendship with the United States, this military alliance is of key importance to us,” Duda said, noting that the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division is currently in Poland. “I am really pleased that my cooperation today with the President of the United States is very vital, it is very good and very fruitful. I believe very strongly that President Joe Biden is very pleased with his visit to Poland, and he thinks it was an important and good visit. Thanks to that visit, he was also able to see that picture with his own eyes.” for what the situation is.”

Asked if he can sleep well at night as long as Putin is in power, Duda said, “I don’t sleep peacefully…because I know what’s going on behind the border.”

He continued, “Can the leader of a neighboring country sleep well in such a situation? It is very difficult, and indeed there is great tension, and there is a great pressure that I suffer from.” “But precisely because of this, I think I have to do it. I have to do everything I can to help in this situation. I have to do everything I can to make sure that Ukraine defends itself. I have to do everything I can to stop Putin.” Today, this is in the interest of Ukraine, but it is also in the interest of my country, Poland, my countrymen. It is also in the interest of the whole of Central Europe.”

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

“I hope that no one will consider him a respectable and just leader or just a politician,” Duda said.

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