Biden has ‘no plans’ to visit Ukraine after trip to Poland, White House says
President Joe Biden travels to Poland this week, but he won’t be visiting neighboring Ukraine as the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion looms, according to a White House official.
The commander in chief will voice continued U.S. support for Ukraine while in neighboring Poland, where he lands Tuesday morning, but will keep things at that, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Sunday.
“We obviously are maintaining a high degree of solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” he said on MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart.”
“The United States leads the world in terms of contributions — whether it’s humanitarian assistance or military weapons to Ukraine — and we’re going to continue to use our convening power to marshal the world, to galvanize support for Ukraine.
“But there are no plans for the president to enter Ukraine on this trip,” Kirby said.
Biden is scheduled to meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda to discuss “collective efforts to support Ukraine and bolster NATO’s deterrence,” according to the White House.
Poland is ready to send MiG fighter jets to Ukraine if the U.S. leads allies in boosting aircraft shipments, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Saturday.
Biden will also meet with leaders of Eastern members of NATO and give a speech on “how we will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,” the White House stated.
He is scheduled to depart Wednesday, two days before the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.
First lady Jill Biden, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the band U2 are among the leaders and celebrities who have visited war-torn Ukraine in recent months, prompting speculation about whether the president is planning a trip of his own.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last April that he expected Biden to make a visit eventually, though the White House quickly shot down the idea.
Travel from Poland to Ukraine would require a lengthy train ride or potentially dangerous flight, and Biden’s advisers think the risks aren’t worth it, Politico reported Sunday.
Last March, Biden visited U.S. troops stationed in Rzeszow, Poland, about 60 miles away from the Ukrainian border.
Biden’s trip to Poland comes as leaders around the globe have been calling for Russia to be prosecuted for war crimes, with Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday accusing Russia of crimes against humanity. Russian officials denied the allegation.
Biden made international headlines last March when he said Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”
The White House quickly tried to walk back the remarks, saying Biden didn’t intend to call for a coup.
In recent weeks, U.S. officials have been warning Ukraine to brace for renewed attacks from Russia in the south and east of the besieged country.
Asked Sunday whether the U.S. would support Ukrainian efforts to retake Crimea, which Russia captured in 2014, Secretary of State Antony Blinken dodged.
“These questions about Ukraine, about its future, belong to the Ukrainians,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“It’s really important, whatever happens, in terms of our own interests, that there be a just and durable peace,” Blinken added.