Biden to deliver ‘important speech’ on final day of Europe trip

(CNN) — President Joe Biden met with Ukrainian officials in the Polish capital Warsaw on Saturday, kicking off the final day of a last-minute trip to Europe aimed at synchronizing how Western allies will deal with aggression. of Russia and to assure the nations that matter with the support of the United States.

Biden’s visit to Europe focused entirely on the war. But the talks with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov were the first time Biden was able to meet Ukrainian officials during his tour.

As the meeting progressed, Kuleba described an arduous journey from kyiv to Warsaw that included a train and a three-hour drive.

“It’s like flying from kyiv to Washington with a connecting flight in Istanbul,” Kuleba said. “The good thing is that since the start of the war, I learned to sleep in all conditions. So I slept on the train, I slept in the car.”

Biden, learning how the ministers traveled, said he also took many train trips.

“You’re looking at a guy who’s traveled over a million, 200,000 miles on a train. Literally,” Biden said. Biden traveled from his home in Delaware to Washington as a senator and vice president on Amtrak trains .

The meeting of the group at a hotel in Warsaw, which also included Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, is expected to explore more substantive issues later.

Ukraine has lobbied the United States and NATO to increase military assistance to Ukraine, including calling on President Volodymyr Zelensky to establish a no-fly zone.

After talks in Brussels this week, at which Zelensky appeared virtually, it doesn’t appear NATO members have warmed to the idea. Biden has said becoming more directly involved in the conflict could usher in World War III.

This left Ukrainian leaders appalled. “Estamos muy decepcionados, con toda honestidad. Esperamos más valentía. Esperábamos algunas audaces decisions. La alianza ha tomado decisiones como si no hubiera guerra”, dijo Andriy Yermak, jefe de la Oficina del Presidente de Ucrania, in an interview with the Atlantic Council Friday.

In Warsaw, Biden held a bilateral meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda to discuss how the United States and its allies are responding to the refugee crisis resulting from the war and will meet with Ukrainian refugees.

Before returning to Washington, the president will also deliver a speech described by the White House as an “opening address”.

The speech, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday, “will address what is at stake right now, the urgency of the challenge ahead, what the conflict in Ukraine means for the world and why it is so important for the free world to maintain unity and determination in the face of Russian aggression”.

Biden’s multi-day tour of Europe began in Brussels, where he consulted with key US allies on the global response to the war. The trip will end in a country bordering Ukraine, where regional security concerns and the ongoing humanitarian crisis will be at the forefront.

At snap summits in Brussels, Biden announced new sanctions against Russian parliament members, revealed US plans to take in 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine, and consulted with leaders on how the world would react if Russia deployed a chemical, biological or nuclear product during the war.

On Friday, Biden also announced a new initiative to deprive Russian President Vladimir Putin of European energy profits that Biden says are being used to fuel Russia’s war in Ukraine. And later in the day, after arriving 104km from Poland’s border with Ukraine, the president met with aid workers to hear their stories about helping to ease the humanitarian crisis and members of the 82nd Airborne Division , which were deployed along NATO’s eastern edge to deter possible Russian aggression.

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

“We are in a new phase, your generation. We are at a turning point,” he said. And he told the troops that their mission was more than just sending a message to Russia. Instead, he said, they acted as a signal to autocrats around the world.

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

US President Joe Biden (2ndR) with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (3rdR) and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (R) attend a meeting on Russia’s war in Ukraine with Ukraine’s Minister of Business Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba (2ndL) and Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov (L) in Warsaw on March 26, 2022. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

“They won’t let me, understandably I guess, cross the border and take a look at what’s going on in Ukraine,” he said. The White House said it was not considering a visit to Ukraine.

The visit to Ukraine’s western neighbor comes as Poland, on multiple fronts, has urged the United States to do more in the war.
For example, Duda called on the United States to speed up and simplify procedures for Ukrainians with relatives in the United States to come to the country.

More than 3.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine, according to data from the UN refugee agency released on Tuesday. The vast majority of these refugees have fled to Ukraine’s western neighbors across Europe.

Poland, which borders Ukraine to the west, has recorded more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees passing through the country, although not all of the refugees who entered Poland stayed there.

In addition, the United States continued to reject Poland’s proposal to facilitate the transfer of its MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. And the Polish president called for a more permanent NATO defense position in the country, as well as an international peacekeeping force in Ukraine.

US officials have been lukewarm about the peacekeeping proposal, suggesting it could violate Biden’s red line of keeping US troops out of the conflict.

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

The Polish president added that Biden’s visit “demonstrates great support and also great importance attached by the United States to global stability and peace, to the restoration of peace where difficult situations occur in places where someone resorts to acts of aggression against other democratic countries”. and free nations, as is happening today against Ukraine, where the Russian aggression, unfortunately, which has lasted for a month, is effective”.

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

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