Marking a grim anniversary of a war with no end in immediate sight, President Joe Biden will travel to Poland from Feb. 20-22 to show support and international unity with Ukraine as it fends off the Russian invasion, the White House announced Friday.
Bien will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda and with leaders of the Bucharest Nine, made up of eastern state members of NATO, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.
Biden will then deliver remarks ahead of the one-year mark of the invasion of Ukraine, “addressing how the United States has rallied the world to support the people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom and democracy and how we will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,” she said.
It was not clear if Biden would make a side trip to Ukraine itself. Biden earlier this week seemed to downplay the idea of such a trip, while suggesting a rumored trip to Poland might be in the works. Given the high security of a presidential trip to Ukraine, any such trip would likely be made public only at the last minute.
John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications for the National Security Council, said he “didn’t have any other stops to speak to” concerning Biden’s travels later this month.
Kirby said the United States would be providing more assistance, which he did not detail. And as the terrain thaws, the brutality on the ground is likely to get even worse, he said, after a winter build-up by Russia.
“We do expect that as the weather improves, the fighting, probably, will get more vicious,” Kirby said. “We’re anticipating that – and, frankly, so are the Ukrainians.”
Asked about a negotiated end to the war, Kirby said it is up to Ukraine whether to sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Absent buy-in from Ukraine – where civilian targets were just hit by Russian cruise missiles – “we’re going to have to stay to the task of supporting Ukraine so they can succeed on the battlefield,” Kirby told reporters at the White House. “If and when President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy has determined it’s time to negotiate and sit down at the table to solve this diplomatically, he can do it with the wind at his back. He can do it with the strength he knows he’s going to need in that negotiation,” Kirby added.
But no formal negotiations are needed to end the war, he said, since Russia could choose to stop its invasion.
“Wouldn’t it be great if the president didn’t have to make a trip around a one-year anniversary of a war that never should have started? Sadly, that’s where we are,” Kirby said. “And he wants to make sure that he’s sending that strong message not only of the United States’ resolve, but the international community’s resolve.”
The trip this month will be Biden’s second visit to Poland as president. His first visit was in March 2022, when he delivered a speech on the multinational effort to support the people of Ukraine.
In that address at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Biden recounted Europe’s history in fighting for democracy over autocracy and warned that the current battle would not end quickly or easily.
“This battle will not be won in days or months either. We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead,” Biden said in his speech last March.
Source: US News