RZESZOW, Poland, March 25 – US President Joe Biden arrived in Rzeszow, Poland, on Friday to witness first-hand international efforts to help millions of Ukrainian refugees fleeing war in their country, and to speak to U.S. troops. strengthening the eastern side of NATO.
His first stop was to meet with U.S. troops. The Army’s 82nd Airborne Division is stationed at Rzeszow airport as part of NATO defense on the eastern side of the alliance. TV footage showed him sharing a pizza and talking to several soldiers.
Biden’s plan was delayed after a plane carrying Polish President Andrzej Duda was diverted back to Rzeszow and an emergency landing in Warsaw. Duda later flew in a different plane and returned to eastern Poland. An official in his office said Duda was not in danger.
Biden was supposed to get a summary of the response to aid to help civilians fleeing Russian attacks inside Ukraine and to respond to the growing number of refugees fleeing Ukraine.
Biden told reporters in Brussels on Thursday that his visit “would strengthen my commitment to make the United States a major part of the response to the migration of all those people, as well as the humanitarian assistance needed inside and outside Ukraine.”
In the evening, Biden would travel to Warsaw, the capital, to talk with Duda. On Saturday, he was scheduled to deliver what the White House described as a major address.
Poland hopes that Biden’s visit will reinforce the United States’ security guarantees that it will protect “every inch” of NATO territory. Warsaw is eager to see more US troops stationed on the eastern side of NATO.
Poland is also likely to present the idea of an international peacekeeping mission comprising troops stationed in Ukraine, an idea first proposed by ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski on a trip to Kyiv.
On the way to Poland via Air Force One, national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters. Asked if Russia could try to detonate cargo ships transporting cargo to Ukraine around the world through NATO countries, Sullivan said: “We are making emergency arrangements in case Russia chooses to strike NATO in that context or in any other context.
“And the president has been very clear about his willingness to respond fully, along with other members of our alliance when Russia attacks NATO,” Sullivan said.
He also suggested that the United States and its allies could impose new sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
“Yes, there are additional ways to tighten the screws on penalties, and we will be reviewing them regularly,” he said.
Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbor. Kyiv and its Western allies call it the unrelenting violence of war and say that Russia’s real goal was to overthrow the government of what President Vladimir Putin considered an illegal state.