Biden to meet with Polish President, visit refugees and issue ‘major address’ on final day of Europe trip

In Warsaw, Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda to discuss how the US and its allies are responding to the refugee crisis that has ensued as a result of the war and he will meet with Ukrainian refugees. Before returning to Washington, the President will also deliver a speech billed by the White House as a “major address.”

The speech, White House national securityr Jake Sullivan said in a preview on Friday, “will speak to the stakes of this moment, advise the urgency of the challenge that lies ahead, what the conflict in Ukraine means for the world, and why it is so important that the free world sustain unity and resolve in the face of Russian aggression.”

Biden’s multi-day swing through Europe began in Brussels, where he conferred with major US allies on the global response to the war. The trip is set to end in a nation bordering Ukraine — where the regional security issues and the ongoing humanitarian crisis will be front and center.
During snap summits in Brussels, Biden announced new sanctions against Russian parliament members, revealed the US’ intent to take in 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine and conferred with leaders on how the world will respond if Russia deploys a chemical, biological or nuclear weapon during the war .

On Friday, Biden also announced a new initiative intended to deprive Russian President Vladimir Putin of European energy profits that Biden says are used to fuel Russia’s war in Ukraine. And later that day, following his arrival some 65 miles from Poland’s border with Ukraine, the President met with aid workers to hear their accounts of helping alleviate the humanitarian crisis and members of the 82nd Airborne Division, who have been deployed along NATO’s eastern edge to deter potential Russian aggression.

Biden told the service members on Friday, “What you’re engaged in is much more than whether or not we can alleviate the suffering of Ukraine.”

“We’re in a new phase, your generation. We’re at an inflection point,” he said. And he told the troops that their mission was more than simply sending a message to Russia. Instead, he said, they were acting as a signal to all the world’s autocrats.

While Biden will meet with refugees in Warsaw, he said on Friday that he would have preferred to see the crisis from an even closer perspective.

“They will not let me — understandably, I guess — cross the border and take a look at what’s going on in Ukraine,” he said. The White House has said it did not explore a visit to Ukraine.

The visit to Ukraine’s western neighbor comes as Poland has, on several fronts, urged the US to do more in the war.

For example, Duda has asked the US to speed up and simplify the procedures allowing Ukrainians with family in the US to come to the country.

Russia invades Ukraine

More than 3.5 million refugees have now fled Ukraine, according to data from the United Nations refugee agency released on Tuesday. A vast majority of those refugees have fled to Ukraine’s western neighbors across Europe.

Poland, which borders Ukraine to the west, has registered more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees crossing into the country, though not all refugees who have entered Poland remain there.

Additionally, the US has continued to reject Poland’s proposal to facilitate the transfer of its MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. And the Polish President has called for a more permanent NATO defense posture in the country along with an international peacekeeping force in Ukraine.

US officials have not warmed to the peacekeeping proposition, suggesting it could violate Biden’s red line of keeping US troops out of the conflict.

During Friday’s meeting with humanitarian workers, Duda said Biden’s “presence here sends a great signal and evidence of unity — unity within NATO.”

The Polish President added that Biden’s visit “demonstrates a huge support and also a big significance attached by the United States to the stability and world peace, to reinstating the peace where difficult situations are happening in places where somebody resorts to acts of aggression against other democratic and free nations — as it is happening today against Ukraine where the Russian aggression, unfortunately, happening for a month now is effect.”

CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Sam Fossum contributed to this report.

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