Poland’s Duda Warns Putin Will Attack Others If Russia Wins in Ukraine

(Bloomberg) -- Polish President Andrzej Duda said Russian President Vladimir Putin will attack other states if the Kremlin wins its war in Ukraine as he sought to convince the US to approve further assistance for Kyiv.

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“What Ukraine needs today is to make sure that Putin does not win the war,” Duda told Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power” on Tuesday.

“We’re a nation who was enslaved by Russia several times. If Russia wins the war in Ukraine, he will attack one more time. He will attack other states,” he added. “That’s why they have to be stopped. They have to be blocked. They have to be punished.”

Duda’s comments come after he visited the White House along with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk at a critical moment in Ukraine’s war to repel Russia’s invasion. The US, Poland and other allies of Ukraine are scrambling to provide more assistance to Kyiv with the war now in its third year and the country’s weapons stockpiles dwindling.

Earlier Tuesday, the White House announced a package of $300 million in military assistance to Ukraine, the Biden administration’s latest effort to secure aid with Congress deadlocked. US assistance has been stalled as House Republicans use Biden’s request as leverage to force concessions in a domestic dispute over immigration and border policy.

Duda, who met Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson earlier Tuesday, said he stressed to US representatives and senators the need to counter the threat from Russia.

NATO Spending

Duda’s visit to Washington served as a marker for the 25th anniversary of Poland’s membership in NATO. The Polish president reiterated his calls for members in the alliance to raise their defense spending commitments. Biden hailed Poland for spending almost 4% of its gross domestic product on defense, double the 2% threshold for NATO members. Duda has sought to raise the threshold for NATO members to 3%.

There has been growing anxiety in some foreign capitals about the future of the military alliance and more broadly the US commitment to its allies.

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has said he told a NATO ally during his presidency that he would let Russia do “whatever the hell they want” to countries that didn’t meet the alliance’s defense spending obligations. Trump has also been a fierce critic of continued US assistance for Ukraine.

“Why should we bear the full burden for their security?” Duda said when asked about Trump’s comments. “This is understandable to me, and President Donald Trump today returned to this topic, and he says 2%, responsible allies pay 2%. Who does not pay 2%? They are not a responsible ally.”

Duda said he enjoyed “good cooperation” with Trump, who is heading to a general-election rematch against Biden.

“No matter who is in power in Poland, no matter who is in power in the United States, the foundation, the basis to us are good Polish-US relations,” Duda said.

“If we had an agreement about something, with President Donald Trump, that agreement was always kept,” he added. “He understood the problems in our part of Europe.”

Duda famously asked the then-president during a White House visit in 2018 to set up a permanent US military base, offering to call it “Fort Trump.” Both men are still in touch.

Asked how he would convince NATO members to increase their contributions, Duda cited the initial resistance to opening accession talks with Ukraine to the European Union just after the Russian invasion began.

“After two, three months, they were saying completely different things,” he said.

--With assistance from Kailey Leinz, Joe Mathieu and Jennifer Jacobs.

(Updates with additional details, quotes from seventh paragraph)

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