During the visit, journalists asked Biden what made him deal with Putin on a daily basis, seeing Ukrainian refugees at the National Stadium.
After initial attempts to downplay the personal rivalry between him and Putin, Biden has strengthened his rhetoric against Putin in the past 10 days. Last week, Biden first called Putin a “war criminal” and later called him “a murderous dictator, a pure thug who wages an immoral war against the people of Ukraine.” He also called the Russian invasion of Ukraine “inhuman”. The US State Department officially announced on Wednesday that members of the Russian armed forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine. The decision to formally prosecute was a significant step by the US government after weeks of refusing to officially claim that the attacks on civilians in Ukraine were war crimes. It is not known, however, whether they will bear any responsibility for the alleged crimes and whether Putin himself will be forced to bear any responsibility.
Biden’s recent comments on Putin came as he focused on the refugee crisis in Europe as millions are fleeing their homes in Ukraine. The president met with Chef José Andrés and other volunteers in Warsaw at the food distribution site for Andrés’ World Center Kitchen, a non-profit post-disaster meal delivery organization. Biden met with some volunteers, some from Europe and some from the United States.
“God, I love you,” was heard the president talking to them and asking if he could help them.
More than 3.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine, according to figures published on Tuesday by the UN refugee agency. The vast majority of these refugees fled to Ukraine’s western neighbors throughout Europe.
Poland, which borders Ukraine to the west, has registered over 2 million Ukrainian refugees entering the country, although not all refugees who entered Poland remain there.
In a short question-and-answer session, Biden recounted how he had been to such places in his life, but said that he was always surprised by the “deep and strength of the human spirit.”
“It’s amazing, it’s amazing. See all these little kids. I just want a hug, just say thank you.
He added, “Each of these kids said something like,“ Pray for my dad or my grandfather or my brother who is fighting there. And I remember what it’s like to have someone in a war zone. Every morning you get up and wonder. You’re just wondering. And you pray not to pick up that phone.
The advances of the Russian military appear to have stopped in major Ukrainian cities such as Kyiv and Kharkiv, with a leading Russian general saying the first phase of their invasion is over and the focus is now shifting to eastern Ukraine. Russia also failed to gain air superiority in Ukraine and suffered heavy personnel losses from the beginning of the invasion.
“Overall, the main tasks of the first phase of the operation have been completed,” said Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy, Russia’s first deputy chief of the General Staff, at his briefing Friday. “The combat potential of the Ukrainian armed forces has been significantly reduced, which allows us, I emphasize once again, to concentrate our main efforts on achieving the main goal – the liberation of Donbas.”
When asked how the Russians changed their military strategy in Ukraine, Biden said, “I’m not sure if they did.”
This history has been updated with additional reports.
CNN’s Nathan Hodge, Maegan Vazquez, Jennifer Hansler and Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.