During his visit, Biden will thank the Polish leader for the efforts of Ukrainian refugees
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will thank the Polish president for the country’s efforts to shelter Ukrainian refugees as part of his trip to Europe this week as Russian forces lead a nearly month-old invasion.
Poland is a crucial ally in the Ukrainian crisis. It is home to thousands of American soldiers and hosts more people fleeing war in Ukraine – more than 2 million – than any other country amid the biggest European refugee crisis in decades.
Biden will travel to Warsaw for a bilateral meeting with President Andrzej Duda scheduled for Saturday. Biden will discuss how the United States, along with its allies and partners, is responding to the humanitarian and human rights crisis that Russia’s unwarranted and unprovoked war on Ukraine has created. It is also possible that the president will visit a refugee camp.
Poland is “an important partner as we work to stay united in the weeks and months to come,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.
Biden added the stop to his critical trip to Brussels this week for urgent talks with NATO and European allies. On Monday, EU leaders from France, Germany, Italy and the UK spoke for about an hour, discussing Russia’s ‘brutal tactics in Ukraine, including its attacks on civilians’ , the White House said. They also reviewed recent diplomatic efforts in support of Ukraine’s efforts to achieve a ceasefire. PSAKI said she believes the leaders will continue to be in regular contact about the conflict.
She said the White House has also stayed in touch with Ukrainian officials.
“We indicate that we support any diplomatic effort,” but the role the United States can play comes through a wide range of military assistance and economic sanctions imposed on Russia, she said.
Biden will not visit Ukraine. “We haven’t explored that option,” Psaki said. Besides the huge security concerns sending Biden into a war zone, the president felt he could make a more “effective and impactful” trip by meeting with other NATO leaders on how to help the Ukraine.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, while in Poland this month, briefly visited neighboring Ukraine in a show of solidarity alongside that country’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba. Poland has been one of the most vocal countries to ask other NATO members to consider getting more involved in curbing the bloodshed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has largely united the United States, NATO and European allies, as well as allies in Asia and elsewhere. The US and European governments view Moscow’s military aggression as a threat to their security and strategic interests.
Biden and NATO have repeatedly stated that while the United States and NATO will provide weapons and other defensive support to non-NATO Ukraine, they are determined to avoid any escalation on behalf of kyiv which would risk a wider war with Russia.
“high risk” of war escalation.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded for the United States to provide his military with more aircraft and advanced air defense systems. NATO and the United States have rejected his calls to establish a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine to suppress Russian air power, saying it would put Western forces in direct conflict with Russian forces. .
The determined resistance of Ukrainian fighters when Russian tanks and troops entered Ukraine in late February quickly defeated attempts by Russian forces to storm the Ukrainian capital and overthrow the west-facing government. Deprived of an easy and early victory, the Russian army is reverting to the scorched earth tactics of its past offensives in Syria and Chechnya, and hammering population centers with airstrikes and artillery barrages that leave civilians like those in the port city of Mariupol able to venture out safely for food or water, to bury the dead, or to flee.
After Biden rallied European allies to join in sweeping sanctions against Russia over the invasion initially, his duties now include dealing with some NATO members who are pushing for greater direct involvement in the fighting. This includes Poland’s proposals for peacekeepers.
Biden’s trip includes a Thursday summit of NATO leaders, who will use the meeting to consider strengthening the bloc’s deterrence and defence, both immediately and in the long term, to deal with the now openly confrontational Putin.
Biden will also attend a European Council summit to discuss allied sanctions against Russia and humanitarian efforts for the millions of Ukrainians displaced by Russian attacks, Psaki said last week.
Its agenda includes a meeting of the leaders of the Group of Seven countries to discuss the punitive financial and economic sanctions that the West and its allies imposed on Russia following its invasion, Psaki said.