Warsaw, Poland – President Joe Biden On Friday he traveled to southeastern Poland where he met with US troops and aid workers helping refugees in a country on the front lines of a humanitarian and military crisis unfolding in Ukraine.
“What you are involved in is much more than just whether or not you can ease the pain and suffering of the people of Ukraine. We are in a new phase, your generation, we are at an inflection point,” Biden told the troops.
Biden spoke with American forces in Rzeszow, which began arriving at the military base there last month as part of US deterrence efforts against Russia. The president had a brief conversation and shook hands with a group of servicemen, whom he called “the best fighting force in the history of the world,” at one point he sat down to join them for a slice of pizza in the dining hall.
“You are the organizing principle around which the rest of the world moves, the free world,” Biden said. “We are in the middle, and I don’t want to sound too philosophical here, but you are in the midst of a battle between democracies and oligarchy.”
Troops are stationed less than 100 miles from where Russian missiles struck a Ukrainian military outpost this month. Service personnel conducted exercises with their Polish and British counterparts, getting acquainted with the local terrain and Polish equipment.
The White House has strongly ruled out any possibility of sending US troops to Ukraine, but it has beefed up the presence of US forces in Europe over the past two months to demonstrate Washington’s commitment to defending NATO territory.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Friday, before returning to Washington on Saturday, that Biden will meet with Ukrainian refugees, followed by a keynote address on the state of war in Ukraine and where he’s heading.
In a meeting with aid workers, Biden said he regretted not being able to travel to Ukraine to see the situation firsthand, and seemed to indicate it would not be safe for him to enter the war-torn country.
Biden was joined in his meeting with aid workers by Polish President Andrzej Duda, who thanked the American leader for his visit and the assistance provided by the United States. But Duda said there is more help Poland needs. Biden will meet again on Saturday.
“The suffering that is happening right now is on your doorstep,” Biden said.
Poland has borne the brunt of the refugee crisis, with more than two million Ukrainians flooded the country. While Poland welcomed refugees with open arms, allowing them to work, providing health care and education for children, the massive influx in just a month has begun to strain cities like Warsaw, where the population is estimated to have increased by 300,000.
Poland is among the countries that feel most vulnerable due to this ongoing invasion. “The bombs were going off not far from their border,” said Barry Pavel, who was a defense policy adviser to the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “This is a really important stop.”
Biden visits Poland after a series of meetings With world leaders Thursday in Brussels, he sought to rally other nations to do more to support Ukraine and punish Russia.
Before leaving Belgium, Biden noted how Putin had used Russia’s energy resources to “force” its neighbors, and announced measures – along with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen – to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.
I know that eliminating Russian gas will have costs for Europe. But before he heads to Poland, he said, it’s not only the right thing to do from a moral point of view, it will put us on a much stronger strategic foundation.
Also on Saturday, Sullivan said, Biden plans to deliver a speech about the need for continued unity and resolve in the face of Russian aggression.
The White House announced will allow As many as 100,000 Ukrainians to enter the United States, with an emphasis on those most vulnerable. The administration also plans to allocate more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid and $11 billion over the next five years to address food security threats around the world following disruptions to the Russian and Ukrainian agricultural industries.
The United States has provided $123 million to help Ukraine’s neighbors deal with the crisis, including $48 million for Poland, where US officials are working to set up programs that provide refugees with temporary assistance for food, accommodations and medical care, along with legal aid and mental health support, the White House said. .
The White House on Thursday announced a new package of sanctions against Russia that will apply to more than 400 Russian and Russian entities, including the State Duma, more than 300 of its members and more than 40 defense companies.
It also said it would take additional steps to prevent Russia from trying to prop up its economy, such as making clear that any gold-related transactions with banks there are prohibited, and calling on companies to stop doing business with Russia any longer. Business as usual.
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