February 21. 2024. 6:33

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Biden looks to solidify Western unity in Poland as war edges to a more complicated stage

Joe Biden will consult allies from Nato’s eastern flank in Poland on Tuesday as the Russian invasion of Ukraine edges toward an even more complicated stage.

After paying an unannounced visit to Kyiv, the US president made his way to Warsaw on Monday on a mission to solidify Western unity as both Ukraine and Russia prepare to launch spring offensives.

The conflict – the most significant war in Europe since the second World War – has already left tens of thousands dead, devastated Ukraine’s infrastructure system and damaged the global economy.

“I thought it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about US support for Ukraine in the war,” Mr Biden said as he stood with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv before departing for Poland.

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“The Ukrainian people have stepped up in a way that few people ever have in the past.”

Mr Biden is scheduled to meet Polish president Andrzej Duda and deliver an address from the gardens of Warsaw’s Royal Castle on Tuesday, where he is expected to highlight the commitment of the central European country and other allies to Ukraine over the past year.

On Wednesday, he will consult Mr Duda and other leaders of the Bucharest Nine, a group of Nato’s easternmost members.

Biden’s stopover — shrouded in secrecy owing to security concerns — was to emphasise the West’s commitment Ukraine and to pledge further military aid.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Mr Biden would underscore in his Warsaw address that Russian president Vladimir Putin wrongly surmised “that Ukraine would cower and that the West would be divided” when he launched his invasion.

“He got the opposite of that across the board,” Mr Sullivan said.

[ What is the West’s attainable objective in Ukraine and what is the exit strategy? ]

While Mr Biden is looking to use his whirlwind trip to Europe as a moment of affirmation for Ukraine and allies, the White House has also emphasised that there is no clear endgame to the war in the near term and the situation on the ground has become increasingly complex.

The administration on Sunday revealed it has new intelligence suggesting that China, which has remained on the sidelines of the conflict, is now considering sending Moscow lethal aid.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said it could become a “serious problem” if Beijing follows through.

Mr Biden and Mr Zelenskiy discussed capabilities that Ukraine needs “to be able to succeed on the battlefield” in the months ahead, Mr Sullivan said.

Mr Zelenskiy has been pushing the US and European allies to provide fighter jets and long-range missile systems known as ATACMS – which Mr Biden has declined to provide so far.

[ Government to consider expanded role for Defence Forces in EU Ukraine mission ]

With no end in sight for the war, the anniversary is a critical moment for Mr Biden to try to bolster European unity and reiterate that Mr Putin’s invasion was a frontal attack on the post-second World War international order.

The White House hopes the president’s visit to Kyiv and Warsaw will help bolster American and global resolve. – AP