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Ukraine live briefing: Biden to meet Russia’s NATO neighbors in Poland as war nears one year


President Biden is set to meet with the leaders of a group of eastern NATO countries concerned by Russian aggression on Wednesday, one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the suspension of the two countries’ last-standing nuclear pact and as the two leaders underscored the growing distance between them in dueling speeches.

Speaking outside of Poland’s Royal Castle ahead of the first anniversary of the war, Biden warned that global democracy is at stake. “When Russia invaded, it wasn’t just Ukraine being tested. The whole world faced a test for the ages,” he said, adding: “The questions we face are as simple as they are profound: Would we respond, or would we look the other way?”

Here’s the latest on the war and its impact across the globe.

Key developments

  • Biden is expected to meet leaders of the Bucharest Nine, a group of countries on NATO’s eastern flank, in Poland on Wednesday. The group comprises Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Biden will also meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the final day of his trip to Warsaw, which came after he made a covert visit to Kyiv.
  • Biden and Putin delivered speeches Tuesday that solidified their contrasting world views. U.S. officials say the speeches were timed coincidentally and were not intended to be head-to-head remarks. In his speech, Biden portrayed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an affront to democracies around the world, while Putin said in his that the West is to blame for the war.
  • Russia recently notified the United States that it would carry out an intercontinental ballistic missile test, U.S. officials said Tuesday night, but no missile appears to have been launched during Biden’s visit to Ukraine. Moscow notified Washington that it planned to carry out the test in accordance with the New START nuclear treaty, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “Such testing is routine and was not a surprise and we did not deem the test a threat to the United States or its allies,” one official said.
  • Putin announced that Russia is suspending its participation in New START, the only remaining arms control agreement between the two countries. In his speech Tuesday, Putin said that Russia will not completely “withdraw” from the treaty but will not allow NATO countries to inspect its nuclear arsenal. Inspections were paused during the pandemic and have not restarted. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken responded to Putin’s announcement on Tuesday, calling the decision “deeply unfortunate and irresponsible.”
  • Russia on Tuesday called for a special U.N. commission to investigate the explosions that blew up the Nord Stream undersea natural gas pipelines, based largely on an American journalist’s controversial allegation that it was destroyed in a secret U.S. operation. The United States has denied involvement.
  • Biden on Tuesday accused Russia of committing crimes against humanity in Ukraine, a legal designation that implicates high-level Russian officials in atrocities such as the intentional killing of civilians, torture, targeted attacks on civilian sites, using rape as a “weapon of war” and placing children into forced adoptions and “reeducation” camps. The U.S. government had formally accused Russia of crimes against humanity over the weekend.

Battleground updates

  • At least 8,000 civilians have been killed and at least 13,000 have been injured in the war over the past year, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday. About 61 percent of victims were men, and nearly 490 of those killed were children, according to the agency. “Our data are only the tip of the iceberg,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said in a release.
  • One in 10 of Ukraine’s hospitals have been damaged by wartime attacks, according to a report by Physicians for Human Rights, a U.S. nonprofit group. The group recorded at least 707 attacks on Ukraine’s health-care system as of Dec. 31, including the killing of at least 62 health-care workers. Many health workers have also been imprisoned, taken hostage or forced to work under Russian occupation, the report said.
  • Fighting continues to rage in the Donetsk areas of Bakhmut, Lyman, Avdiivka and elsewhere, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech late Tuesday, describing “constant, intense assaults.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent shockwaves around the world as millions of refugees fled the country, grain shipments were delayed and Russian gas curtailed. (Video: Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

Global impact

  • The U.N. General Assembly is expected to vote on a resolution this week urging peace in Ukraine. Russia implored U.N. member states to vote against the resolution, calling it “unbalanced and anti-Russian,” Reuters reported.
  • Zelensky met with a delegation of congressional Republicans on Tuesday, as well as an Italian delegation headed by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Italy offered a “new package of defense support, including air defense,” he said in his nightly address.
  • A top Chinese security diplomat met with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev in Moscow on Tuesday and emphasized the strength of the two countries’ relations. China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, mentioned both nations’ desire to “defend” their “common strategic interests” and said that relations are “rock-solid,” the Russian government-owned Tass news agency reported.

From our correspondents

A year in the trenches has hardened Ukraine’s president: President Volodymyr Zelensky once came into office thinking that he could achieve peace with Putin, but a year ago this week, he found himself hiding in a safe room in Kyiv — the start of a series of experiences that has transformed him into a globally known, hard-bitten wartime leader, Paul Sonne and David L. Stern report.

“Of course, we all have changed, including the president,” said Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential office. “The ordeals that have marked his tenure — they can’t but change a person. Has he become harder? Of course, he has. Has he become stronger? From my point of view, he was always strong.”