President Joe Biden had quite an end to his trip Wednesday, stumbling up the stairs of Air Force One again, as he headed back to the United States after a three-day visit to Europe that included stops in Ukraine and Poland.
Biden, 80, surprised the world Monday by showing up in Kyiv, Ukraine, after a secret flight from Joint Base Andrews, through Germany, to Poland, and then a sleepless, 10-hour journey across the border to Ukraine by train.
The president memorably fell up the stairs of Air Force One just two months into his administration in March 2021. In June, he also fell off his bike while spending a weekend away in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
One of his biggest vulnerabilities going into the 2024 presidential campaign cycle – should he run – will be his age, with Republican candidate Nikki Haley already calling for politicians older than 75 to subject to ‘competency tests.’
Biden wrapped up two days in Warsaw Wednesday with a meeting with the Bucharest Nine leaders, who represent NATO’s eastern flank.
NOT AGAIN: President Joe Biden concluded his *trip* to Ukraine and Poland Wednesday by falling up the stairs of Air Force One as he was headed back to the United States
A still photograph of President Joe Biden walking up the stairs of Air Force One seconds before he fell up them again
President Joe Biden (third from left) attends a meeting of the Bucharest Nine, nations that make of NATO’s eastern flank, which will be his final stop during his three-day trip to Kyiv and Warsaw
Before the meeting, Biden called Putin’s decision to leave the New START nuclear arms treaty a ‘big mistake’ and vowed to ‘defend every inch’ of NATO as diplomatic tensions between Washington and Moscow further deteriorated.
Seated at a round table with Bucharest Nine leaders, Biden sarcastically referred to Putin as a ‘friend.’
‘The irony is that – one of the last conversations I had with our friend in Russia, was I said, you keep asking for the Finlandization of NATO, you’re going to get the NATOization of Finland,’ Biden said.
Both Finland and Sweden are in the process of joining NATO.
‘As NATO’s eastern flank, near the frontlines of our collective defense, many of you know better than anyone what’s at stake in this conflict. Not just free Ukraine, but freedom of democracies throughout Europe and around the world,’ Biden told the Bucharest Nine leaders.
Biden swore that the U.S. would defend ‘literally every inch, every inch of NATO.’
‘What literally is at stake is not just Ukraine, it’s freedom,’ he reiterated later in his remarks. ‘The idea that over 100,000 forces would invade another country. Since World War II nothing like that has happened.’
Biden noted that since a year ago, ‘things have changed radically.’
‘We have to make sure we change them back,’ he said.
President Joe Biden (center right) stands alongside (from right) Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova as leaders arrive Wednesday to the Bucharest Nine meeting in Warsaw
President Joe Biden (left) and Polish President Andrzek Duda (right) attend a meeting of the Bucharest Nine in Warsaw, Poland on Wednesday
President Joe Biden (right) clasps the hands of Polish President Andrzej Duda (left) while Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova (center) looks on at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland on Wednesday afternoon
President Joe Biden’s limo, the Beast, drives to the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland on Wednesday for his meeting with Bucharest Nine leaders
Police line the motorcade route in Warsaw, Poland Wednesday ahead of President Joe Biden’s meeting at the Presidential Palace with the Bucharest Nine leaders
On Tuesday, the U.S. president spoke at the Warsaw Royal Castle Gardens to a crowd of 30,000 – according to the Warsaw mayor’s office – where he proclaimed that ‘Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, never.’
The event had a campaign rally feel, with attendees waving a mix of Polish, Ukrainian and American flags, and upbeat pop music blasting through the outdoor venue ahead of Biden’s arrival.
Biden used the speech to counter comments Putin had made earlier in the day, during his long-delayed state-of-the-nation address.
He blasted Putin’s claim that the U.S. wanted to ‘destroy Russia’ and said that the war in Ukraine was entirely the Russian president’s doing.
The result was a face-off that could have from come from the height of the Cold War as East and West delivered dueling speeches. Putin accused Washington of sparking the war, before Biden hit back.
‘The United States and the nations of Europe do not seek to control or destroy Russia,’ Biden said to cheers.
‘The West was not plotting to attack Russia, as Putin said today and millions of Russian citizens only want to live in peace with their neighbours are not the enemy.
‘This war was never a necessity. It’s a tragedy.’
President Joe Biden is welcomed to Kyiv by President Volodomyr Zelensky during a surprise visit on Monday morning
President Joe Biden received a hero’s welcome when he arrived in the grounds of Warsaw’s Royal Castle on Tuesday evening to mark the anniversary of the war in Ukraine
‘Brutality will never grind down the will of the free,’ said Biden to an audience of Poles and Ukrainian refugees. ‘And Ukraine … Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, never.’
Biden arrived to find a city in a state of high anticipation. His trip to Kyiv only heightened the excitement and he delivered his speech to a packed crowd at the castle
Biden accused the Russian leader of war crimes on a colossal scale. But after the dark days of a year ago, at times it sounded like a victory rally.
‘One year ago, the world was bracing for the fall of Kyiv,’ Biden told the packed crowd. ‘Well I just came from a visit to Kyiv, and I can report Kyiv stands strong.
‘Kyiv stands proud, it stands tall and, most important, it stands free.’
The speech offered a chance to riff on one of Biden’s key ideological themes: That authoritarian regimes are fragile in the face of democracy.
‘Autocrats only understand one word no, no, no,’ he said.
‘No, you will not take my country. No, you will not take my freedom.
‘No, you will not take my future.
The Royal Warsaw Castle offered a spectacular backdrop. Polish President Andrzej Duda introduced Biden to a crowd of thousands in the castle grounds
Biden embrace children holding flags after he finished delivering his speech
Earlier in the day, Polish President Andrzej Duda (right) welcomed Biden to Warsaw
Polish President Andrzej Duda and US president Joe Biden face each other during their meeting at the presidential palace. Biden used the occasion to promise support to Europe
‘And I’ll repeat tonight what I said last year, the same place. A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never be able to ease the people’s love of liberty.
‘Brutality will never grind down the will of the free.
‘And Ukraine … Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, never.’
His speech reflected just how much the region has changed since Biden visited a little under a year ago. Then Kyiv appeared to be on the brink of disaster, as Russian troops advance in a lightning assault.
Now the city is safe enough for a sitting American president to visit, allowing a very visual show of support.
Yet on Tuesday evening he still warned that there were ‘hard and very bitter days, victories and tragedies’ ahead but promised that the U.S. would not waver in its support for Ukraine.
‘There should be no doubt our support for Ukraine will not waver, NATO will not be divided. And we will not tire,’ he said.
‘President Putin’s craving, lust for land and power will fail.’
Earlier Tuesday, Biden met with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the Presidential Palace and spoke about just how important Poland has been during the Ukraine war, calling the backing ‘truly extraordinary.’
Poland has accepted around 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees into its communities since the invasion started on February 24, 2022.
Biden also cheered on the greater NATO alliance.
‘The truth of the matter is: The United States needs Poland and NATO as much as NATO needs the United States,’ Biden said.
The folksy president also spoke about how many Polish-Americans he grew up in outside of Wilmington, Delaware, telling Duda he wanted to add a ‘ski’ to his name.
‘I grew up feeling self-conscious my name didn’t end in an “s-k-i” or an “o,”‘ he said, recalling the strong Polish and Italians communities of Delaware.
‘I was telling the president the pride, the overwhelming demonstrable pride that Polish-Americans feel about Poland and the role you’re playing now. We were talking about it. It’s extreme,’ Biden added.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk