RZESZOW, Poland — President Biden was en route to this once-quiet city that has become a major hub for Western military aid to Ukraine, signaling U.S. determination to provide high-tech weaponry to Kyiv to protect Moscow for its invasion to punish.
Mr Biden is scheduled to meet his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda, a day after both attended a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit at which members pledged to strengthen the alliance’s eastern flank, provide further military support to Ukraine and impose heavy economic costs on Russia for his attack which began on February 24th.
The two leaders are expected to focus on the growing refugee crisis, as the bulk of Ukrainians fleeing the fighting have fled to Poland. More than 3.6 million people have fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations, and over 2.1 million have arrived in Poland.
Mr Biden said Thursday the US would take in 100,000. Leaders of the Group of Seven developed countries called for more international aid to Ukraine’s neighboring countries hardest hit by the refugee influx after their meeting in Brussels on Thursday, which was also attended by Mr. Biden.
Before leaving for Poland, Mr. Biden said he wanted his visit to “reaffirm my commitment that the United States will ensure that we provide an important part of the relocation of all these people, as well as the humanitarian assistance that is needed both inside Ukraine and outside.” Of Ukraine.”
Rzeszow has become an important supply artery for Ukraine. Military transport planes and other cargo planes are landing at breakneck speed in a major airlift to bring humanitarian aid and smuggle anti-tank weapons, heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles, communications and other supplies across the border with Ukraine some 60 miles to the east. The US was joined by countries such as Britain and Germany in pledging to keep arms supplies to Ukraine running.
On the eve of Mr Biden’s arrival in Poland, a huge Antonov cargo plane landed at Rzeszow Airport. It had taken off from an airfield in Turkey near the factory that makes TB2 Bayraktar drones, which Ukraine has used to bash Russian ground forces.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged NATO allies to provide more and better equipment as he virtually attended the summit. He asked for anti-ship weapons, aircraft, tanks, air defenses and systems capable of firing barrages of ground-launched missiles that Russia has used to attack Ukrainian troops and cities.
Before leaving Brussels, Mr Biden also stepped up efforts to further punish Moscow for its attack, with the US pledging on Friday to ship more liquefied natural gas to Europe this year to help ease the continent’s reliance on Russian energy to free. Western nations are seeking energy independence from Russia, the continent’s main energy supplier, to keep money from flowing to Moscow. The US is the world’s largest natural gas producer.
The US President is expected to visit American troops in Poland to provide better protection amid Russian military operations in the neighboring country. Among other things, the US has sent soldiers and Patriot missile defense systems to Poland. NATO has launched a strategic review that could result in leaders agreeing to station troops more permanently in the countries closest to Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
The fighting across the border from here in Ukraine has lasted much longer and been far more fierce than US and allied officials anticipated. The Ukrainian military has surprised its allies with its ability to repel Russian attacks, repel its planes and destroy its tanks, preventing the invading army from making significant advances.
In Ukraine, the battle for the capital continued overnight. Northwest of Kyiv, Ukraine continued its attempted encirclement of Moscow forces, closing in to facilitate ambushes.
The Ukrainian military, including special forces and some Western fighters, made territorial gains in the west of the city, including in the town of Irpin, which has been a battlefield for weeks, where some civilians defied artillery attacks by walking the streets. The head of Ukraine’s national police said authorities would evacuate Irpin.
Russia made advances north and east of Kiev, recapturing the city of Izyum and shelling Kharkiv and Chernihiv, where the Ukrainian general staff said its forces would thwart a Russian advance on the capital.
Russia, which deployed some 190,000 troops to invade Ukraine last month, has lost up to 40,000 of those soldiers, including dead, injured, captured or deserted, according to NATO estimates, a number of casualties that would mean a lot for part of the Russian forces incapable of offensive operations.
The toll on the civilian population of Ukraine was immense. More than 1,000 people died and more than 1,600 were injured in the month of fighting, the UN said, adding that the real number is likely much higher. Tens of millions of people have been uprooted, the UN said.
– Brett Forrest and Alan Cullison contributed to this article.
write to Tarini Parti at Tarini.Parti@wsj.com
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https://www.wsj.com/articles/bidens-poland-visit-to-spotlight-weapons-humanitarian-aid-for-ukraine-11648200912 Biden’s visit to Poland to spotlight arms and humanitarian aid to Ukraine