WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will travel to Poland this month to rally allies one year after Russia’s assault on Ukraine began, the White House announced Friday, as he aims to sustain a coalition that has supported Kyiv’s defenses.
The visit, scheduled for Feb. 20-22, comes as polling in the United States and abroad suggests waning support for maintaining tens of billions of dollars worth of military and economic assistance for Ukraine in the protracted war. In addition, Republicans who recently took control of the House have voiced skepticism — or outright opposition — to continuing the funding.
Russia, meanwhile, is believed to be planning a renewed offensive in conjunction with the anniversary, and has stepped up its long-range strikes on Ukraine’s military and civilian infrastructure in recent weeks.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden would meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda and the leaders of the Bucharest Nine, which are NATO allies in Eastern Europe, to discuss his “unwavering support” for the alliance.
She added that Biden would deliver a speech on how the U.S. “will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
It remained unclear whether Biden might attempt a visit to Ukraine as many other Western leaders and members of Congress have done.
Jean-Pierre said the administration will “continue to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
Biden visited Poland just weeks after the war began on Feb. 24 when he delivered a forceful case for supporting Ukraine’s defense in front of Warsaw’s iconic Royal Castle. At the time, Biden said Putin “cannot remain in power,” though the White House swiftly backed off what initially seemed to be call for regime change in Moscow.
First lady Jill Biden briefly crossed the border on a trip in May and met her counterpart, Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska, in the latter’s first public event since the war began. Biden, as well as White House officials, have highlighted the unique security challenges raised by a potential visit by a U.S. president to a country under invasion by nuclear-armed Russia.
Biden in December hosted President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the White House, where the Ukrainian leader also pressed for additional Western weapons and support during an address to Congress.
Associated Press writer Chris Megerian contributed to this report.