Biden in Poland to 'reassure' US allies in wake of Russian intervention

McClatchy Washington BureauMarch 18, 2014 

Vice President Joe Biden landed in Poland Tuesday morning on a trip designed to reassure U.S. allies worried about Russia’s aggressive move in Ukraine and what it might mean for the rest of the region.

A senior White House official told reporters aboard Air Force Two that Biden would talk about the NATO alliance and how to strengthen it "so that NATO emerges from this crisis even stronger than it went into it."

He'll also look for an opportunity to consult on how to deal with the situation in Ukraine, as leaders head into a European Union meeting on Thursday. The White House said the trip will give Biden a chance to consult with leaders "who have deep experience with both Ukraine and Russia" so that the U.S. "can compare notes and make sure that we remain as coordinated in the days ahead as we’ve been up until now."

Biden will also have the opportunity to talk about longer term issues, including energy security and transatlantic trade, the official said.

Biden is to meet with Polish officials today, as well as the presidents of former Soviet republics of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia on the trip.

Biden will not discuss changes to the U.S.'s missile defense program in Europe, reiterating the U.S. stance that the program is designed to thwart emerging ballistic missile threats not from Russia, but "from elsewhere."

Biden will talk about further steps that the United States can take and that NATO can take as an alliance to further shore up the security of Poland and the Baltics and other NATO allies, but administration officials didn't share details.

The White House did say that the U.S. has augmented the Baltic air policing mission by adding additional fighter jets in Estonia, and augmented the aviation detachment in Poland by adding a complement of fighters.


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