According to various sources familiar with the plans, White House officials are having preliminary discussions about having President Joe Biden travel to Europe soon in the wake of Russia’s escalating invasion of Ukraine.
Several top advisers, including Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have already paid visits to the White House. According to a source familiar with the plans, the White House is considering a stop in Poland, as well as other European destinations.
The trip is being planned because NATO leaders could gather in person in Brussels as early as next week for what would be an exceptional meeting in the wake of Russia’s invasion, according to a diplomatic source familiar with the plans.
Biden’s trip as well as the NATO meeting have yet to be finalized or announced. If the trip takes place, it will be one of the most widely followed trips by an American president to Europe in decades. NBC News was the first to report on the potential trip’s negotiations.
On Sunday, Russia escalated its offensive in western Ukraine, shooting missiles near Lviv and striking a big military base near the Polish border, killing scores of people. Poland is a NATO ally, and the military installation has hosted NATO and Western military forces for joint drills.
Last week, Harris traveled to Poland to promote Western solidarity in the face of Russian aggression. Harris was despatched to Europe for the second time in a month as the Biden administration seeks international support for its efforts to punish Russia for its war in Ukraine.
The vice president was charged with resolving an apparent rift between the US and Poland over the provision of fighter jets to Ukraine. Amid the invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been appealing for more aircraft, and Poland surprised the US with a request to provide the country with its Soviet-era fighter fighters. Poland’s plan was rejected by the Pentagon.
Following his meeting with the Polish President, Harris stated at a joint press conference with the foreign leader that the two countries were “unified in what we have done and are prepared to help Ukraine and its people.”
Civilians are getting caught in the crossfire as combat in Ukraine increases and the invasion enters its third week. Heavy explosions have been heard in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, with at least one person killed and numerous more injured after a residential building in a Kyiv suburb were bombarded on Monday.
According to the United Nations, more than 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees have been forced to evacuate their homes in the last two weeks as a result of Russia’s invasion.
During their most recent phone call, Zelensky pressed Biden for more measures to tighten the screws on Russia, CNN reported earlier Monday. Biden was asked by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to step up efforts to isolate Russia from international trade and to continue to target Russia’s elite.
On Wednesday, Zelensky will offer a virtual address to Congress. The Ukrainian president is anticipated to resume his appeals for the US to deliver additional aid to his country, as well as for the US and NATO to assist in establishing a no-fly zone above Ukraine. Such a step, according to both Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, is unrealistic and might result in a direct clash between Russia and NATO.
In recent weeks, the US and its allies have taken a slew of moves aimed at punishing Moscow for the invasion, including fresh sanctions and export limits targeted at squeezing the Russian economy.
Biden called for the suspension of normal commercial relations with Russia on Friday, as the United States and its allies seek to increase economic pressure on Russia in retribution for the country’s unjustified war on Ukraine. According to the President, G7 leaders would try to prevent Russia from borrowing from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.