“Of course, it’s hard to deny. It’s a crime that carries the traits of genocide, especially when you look at the context of the various conversations that are taking place,” Duda said in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Dana Bash in Warsaw. , Poland.
Duda said that Russian propaganda about Moscow’s goal of “denationalizing” Ukraine shows that the country was looking for a false excuse “to commit a massacre.”
“The fact that civilians are dying in Ukraine best shows what the goal is [the] The Russian invasion is this, he said through an interpreter. “The purpose of this invasion is simply to destroy the Ukrainian nation.”
Duda, who was first elected president of Poland in 2015 and served in three US administrations, heads the country as he plays a key role in supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia, fighting the influx of Ukrainian refugees, seeking further sanctions on Russia and supplying weapons to Ukraine.
Millions of Ukrainians fled across the country to Poland. As a member of NATO, Poland was one of the countries where U.S. and NATO troops were deployed to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank as a deterrent to Russia.
There were also some problems. Ukraine was looking for Polish MiG-29 fighters to help fight Russia, but attempts to deliver the planes to Ukraine failed after Poland publicly offered to hand them over to the U.S. through a German air base to send to Ukraine. The U.S. said such a plan was unfeasible and the planes were not shipped.
U.S. President Joe Biden said Wednesday that “major war crimes” were discovered in response to footage from Bucha, although he did not call Russia’s attacks genocide. The Biden administration has announced another new round of sanctions against Russia’s largest financial institutions and a number of Kremlin-linked individuals, including two adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Sanctions regime needs to be strengthened”
In an interview, Duda questioned the usefulness of diplomatic efforts with Russia at this time of conflict. He said he was not surprised by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s criticism of French President Emanuel Macron this week, when Morawiecki said: “No one was negotiating with Hitler.”
“Dialogue with Russia does not make sense,” Duda said. “Vladimir Putin needs to be given very strict conditions. I must say: “If you do not meet these conditions, we have nothing to talk about.” We will strongly support Ukraine, we will increase the sanctions regime, because if you have a dialogue that will not achieve anything, it is just a game to gain time from Russia. “
Under these conditions, Duda called for additional sanctions against Russia and its energy sector, lamenting Europe’s dependence on Russian energy resources, which continues even if sanctions have been imposed in other sectors.
“The sanctions regime needs to be strengthened. I have no doubt about that,” Duda said. “This is, of course, a very difficult task … However, the problem is that for some countries it is fundamental for them.”
Duda noted that Poland opposes the creation of gas pipelines between Russia and Germany, saying that these are “political projects” designed to bypass Poland and the Baltic states. He called for the dismantling of the new Nord Stream II gas pipeline.
“Russia is blackmailing not only Germany, now Russia is blackmailing, in fact, the whole of Europe,” Duda said. “What we are saying is that it is impossible to impose an embargo on Russian gas, it is impossible to impose an embargo on Russian oil immediately.”
“He’s my direct neighbor”
Duda said he was talking to Zelensky, perhaps most often among world leaders. “This is my direct neighbor. He is my colleague, ”Duda said. “I have a deep feeling that we must do everything to help Ukraine. Yes, it is a feeling that comes to me not only from the need to ensure the security of Poland, we want the Ukrainian state to exist as independent, sovereign and free.”
The Polish leader said he suspected that part of Putin’s strategy was an attempt to destabilize Poland and other neighboring countries through a crisis of refugees from Ukraine, but he said his country had so far been able to control the influx of refugees fleeing Ukraine.
“To some extent, I am proud of my compatriots who help, the thousands of political volunteers who give their hearts and do not sleep at night to help Ukrainian refugees,” Duda said. “I am deeply grateful to them, for them. But on the other hand, I am aware of how much of a burden this is for our country and our society. And that is why I am asking everywhere for international help. And we are receiving this help.”
Duda acknowledged that he was concerned that the war in Ukraine was spreading to Poland, and said there should be no doubt that Poland could be threatened by Moscow in the future.
“In the situation of Russian aggression against Ukraine, which the military calls a full-fledged invasion, I think that under these circumstances, no one has any doubt that Poland is potentially threatened by Russian aggression in the future,” Duda said. “That’s why we need to spend on our defense capabilities.”
“Bright” and “fruitful” relationships
During the 2020 campaign, Biden criticized Poland, uniting it with Hungary and Belarus, to warn of the strengthening of totalitarian regimes and to criticize then-President Donald Trump for accepting “bandits in the world.” But Duda said only warm words to Biden in an interview Wednesday, saying he appreciates his relationship with all three U.S. presidents with whom he served.
“Friendship with the United States, this military alliance is key to us,” Duda said, noting that the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army is now in Poland. “I am very happy that my cooperation with the President of the United States, which I have today, is so bright, so good, so fruitful. And I deeply believe that President Joe Biden is looking forward to his visit to Poland, that he believes it was an important and good visit. That thanks to this visit he was also able to see with his own eyes the picture of the situation. “
Asked if he could sleep well at night while Putin was in power, Duda said: “I don’t sleep well … because I know what’s going on abroad.”
“Can the head of the neighboring country sleep well in such a situation? It is very difficult, and there really is a high tension, a lot of stress that I feel,” he continued. “But that’s why 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 Ukraine is defending itself. I have to do everything I can. to Stop Putin. Today it is in the interests of Ukraine, but it is also in the interests of my country, Poland, my compatriots. It is also in the interests 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 no one will consider him a decent and fair leader, or just a politician,” Duda said.