Vice president Harris took off from the US this morning in Air Force Two en route to Poland. She is on a trip to the capital, Warsaw, and then on to the Romanian capital, Bucharest, to meet with allied leaders and discuss the war in Ukraine.
“This trip to the eastern flank [of Nato members] is further support to our allies and is also an extremely important opportunity to collaborate with them on next steps in responding to Russian aggression,” a senior administration official said Tuesday night.
The official said Harris will meet Thursday with the Polish president, Andrzej Dudaand the country’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, inWarsaw. Harris will also sit down with the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudueauwho will be in Poland at the same time.
In Bucharest, Harris will meet with the Romanian president, Klaus Iohannisas well as embassy staffers.
In addition to her meetings with allied leaders, Harris will have “an opportunity to engage with people who have fled the violence in Ukraine” while in Warsaw, the official said.
More than two million people have now fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, and many of those refugees have escaped to neighboring countries in eastern Europe.
Polish officials have said that more than 100,000 people from Ukraine are arriving in their country each day.
Harris’s trip was planned before the confusion unfolded over whether and how Poland would supply fighter jets to Ukraine.
VP Harris flies into middle of Nato debacle over providing fighter jets to Ukraine
kamala harris‘ trip to eastern Europe comes as the US and Poland have publicly clashed over how to handle the transfer of fighter jets to Ukrainian forces.
Poland’s foreign minister announced Tuesday that the country was “ready to deploy – immediately and free of charge – all their Russian-made MiG-29 jets to the [US] Ramstein air base and place them at the disposal of the government of the United States of America”.
It was originally expected that the US would receive the plans and then donate them to Ukraine, but the Pentagon released a statement hours after Poland’s announcement saying that it was not a feasible plan.
“The prospect of fighter jets ‘at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America’ departing from a US/Nato base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire Nato alliance,” said John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.
“We will continue to consult with Poland and our other Nato allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one.”
A senior administration official said Tuesday night that the White House has been in consistent communication with the Polish government about how to best provide security assistance to Ukraine.
“That’s a dialogue that will absolutely continue up to and as part of the vice-president’s trip,” the official said. “This is a key priority for us and for all of our Nato allies, and so we expect that we will continue talking about how to achieve this really important objective.”
Ramstein air base in south-western Germany is headquarters for the US air forces in Europe and Nato allied air command.
Harris flies to Poland amid confusion over foreign fighter jets for Ukraine
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