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Biden to travel to Poland ahead of first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

President Biden will travel to Poland Feb. 20-22, the White House announced Friday, ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The president is expected to deliver remarks ahead of the Feb. 24 anniversary of Russia’s “brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Jean-Pierre said Biden will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda to “discuss our bilateral cooperation, as well as our collective efforts to support Ukraine and bolster NATO’s deterrence.” He will also meet with leaders of the Bucharest Nine, a group of nations including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Estonia, that was created after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. With those leaders, Biden will “reaffirm the United States’ unwavering support for the security of the alliance,” Jean-Pierre said.

The president will continue to promote U.S. efforts to help Ukraine in its war effort, Jean-Pierre said, and show how the nation 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.”

John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman, told reporters that he didn’t have “any other additional stops” on the trip to announce and said the White House is still putting the trip’s schedule together. Kirby said he couldn’t rule out that “there may be additional attendees or additional meetings that the president might have.”

“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.”

Kirby added that in his remarks, Biden will “make it very clear that the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

“He will certainly make clear that additional security assistance, additional financial assistance, additional help for Ukraine will be coming from the United States,” Kirby said.

The announcement of Biden’s visit comes a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked European Union leaders for more military equipment, including warplanes, during a Thursday visit to the bloc’s home base. Zelensky’s appeal for military aircraft comes amid warnings from Ukrainian officials that Russia is planning an offensive that is likely to include the northeastern region of Kharkiv and the southern Zaporizhzhia region.

The Kremlin needs “to have something to show before their people, and have a major desire to do something big, as they see it,” by the Feb. 24 anniversary of the invasion, Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told Reuters.

Biden was last in Poland in March and visited the area near the Ukraine border, where he met with U.S. and Polish troops, as well as Ukrainian refugees. He has not visited Ukraine during the war, however.

A number of U.S. lawmakers — and first lady Jill Biden — have visited the nation since the war broke out. The first lady crossed the border into Ukraine during an unannounced visit in May — a rare move for the spouse of a sitting president. She entered the country from Slovakia on Mother’s Day and met Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, who had not appeared in public since the Russian invasion began.

On April 30, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) led a Democratic congressional delegation to Kyiv for talks with Zelensky. Pelosi vowed to the Ukrainian president that the United States is committed to “be there for you until the fight is done.” The next month, Zelensky met Saturday with a Senate delegation led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in Kyiv.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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