‘Poles and Ukrainians united in seeking victory over Russia,’ Zelensky says in Warsaw

Poland's President Andrzej Duda, center, with his wife, Agata Kornhauser-Duda, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrive to deliver speeches in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, April 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
4 Min Read

Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky began his address upon his visit to Warsaw on Wednesday in the Polish language, citing Poland’s national anthem, which alludes to recovering lost territories, and also the words of John Paul II, the Polish pope.

Zelensky emphasized that the two nations, Poles and Ukrainians, were united in seeking victory in the current conflict with Russia, and took the opportunity to thank Poland for all it had done for Ukraine while still emphasizing that today’s Ukraine was fighting from a position of strength. He said that the unity shared with Poland would help to defend freedom, independence, and Europe. The Ukrainian president added that he had also visited the square in Warsaw where John Paul II made a historic address in 1979 when the late pope called for a renewal of the country, which later took place. 

Polish President Andrzej Duda addressed the crowds gathered in the Royal Castle first. He recalled how he had seen Zelensky in Kyiv just a day before the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, 2022. The Ukrainian head of state had wondered if they would see each other again but promised that if invaded, the Ukrainians would fight. Duda had assured him that they would see each other again many a time and that he and Ukraine could count on Poland’s support. 

Duda also recalled the words of former Polish President Lech Kaczynski in Tbilisi, where the then Polish president had said that Russia’s intent was “today Georgia, tomorrow Ukraine, then the Baltic states and ultimately Poland.” But Kaczynski also said that Central and Eastern Europe had courageous leaders and pointed to Zelensky as the best possible example of courage. He praised Zelensky for his courage in leading his nation in the fight against the invaders and for his relentless efforts to make the world aware of the nature of the conflict. 

The Polish president called Zelensky “a hero of the free world, but for us, first and foremost a friend of Poland.” He revealed that earlier in the day he had awarded Zelensky the highest honor, the order of the White Eagle. 

Duda warned the Kremlin that it would not be able to set Ukrainians and Poles against each other and divide them. “That is why we are not afraid to talk about the most difficult stages of our history. We demonstrated this with a joint visit to Lviv. We have a great history, a great culture and a great, beautiful future,” the Polish president added.

He also emphasized that peace can only come when Russia leaves Ukrainian territory and that until that happens, Poland would continue to counter any resistance in the West to assist Ukraine, telling any doubters that they should visit places like Bucha to discover firsthand what Ukraine was going through. 

Poland’s head of state expressed his pride in the way Poland had shown that it was the land of real solidarity, and praised all individuals and institutions that had engaged in assisting Ukrainians and the Ukrainian state, describing this as “Poland’s second wave of solidarity.”

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