President Joe Biden will visit Poland this month to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, returning to the region as the war enters a volatile new phase without a clear path to peace.
The president is planning to visit Poland from February 20-22. The White House said he would meet Polish President Andrzej Duda and other leaders from the region. He’ll deliver remarks ahead of the official anniversary on February 24.
“He wants to talk about the importance of the international community’s resolve and unity in supporting Ukraine for now going on a year,” said John Kirby, the strategic communications coordinator at the National Security Council.
“Wouldn’t it be great if the president didn’t have to make a trip around a one year anniversary of a war that never should have started?” Kirby added. “Sadly, that’s where we are.”
Kirby said Biden would send a message of continued US support for Ukraine’s efforts.
“We know the next weeks and months are going to be difficult and critical, especially for their own forces, and the United States is going to continue to stand by them,” he said.
One year ago, Biden was urgently warning a sometimes-skeptical world that a massive buildup of Russian troops along Ukraine’s borders was the precursor to war. At the time, even some inside his own government questioned the ability of the Ukrainians to withstand an invasion, predicting the imminent fall of the capital Kyiv.
Instead, Ukrainian fighters have held the capital and continue to resist Russian attempts to control territory, helped by a massive influx of Western weapons, ammunition and equipment. The war has become a grinding conflict that US officials say could last for months or even years.
It has come to shape Biden’s foreign policy, the fallout reverberating in the global economy and leading to newfound unity between the United States and its European allies.
Biden’s aides have been planning for several weeks how they will mark the anniversary of the invasion, including potentially a major address. They hope to emphasize the resilience of the Ukrainian people while stressing the importance of unity in the uncertain months ahead.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is currently preparing for an expected Russian offensive in the spring, appealing to Western governments for additional assistance and weaponry to help sustain the fight.
He visited London, Paris and Brussels this week to deliver his requests in person, a rare trip outside his country that lent his appeals new urgency. Zelensky made his first trip outside Ukraine to Washington late last year, meeting Biden in the Oval Office and delivering remarks to Congress.
His principal request has been more advanced weapons, including fighter jets and tanks, which he says are needed to stave off Russian advances. While the British and French leaders have sounded open to sending jets, Biden responded “no” last month when asked if he would send US F-16s.
He did agree last month to prove sophisticated M1 Abrams tanks and has already provided Patriot missile defense systems.
Vice President Kamala Harris is also expected to be in Europe this month attending the Munich Security Conference, where the war in Ukraine will be the top subject of discussion among world leaders.
Poland is a key NATO ally currently housing thousands of American troops that also serves as a hub for Western weapons transfers to Ukraine. US service members are also training Ukrainian troops there.
Biden last visited the country in March, traveling near the Ukraine border to visit with US and Polish troops. He also met with refugees fleeing Ukraine after the invasion.
In a major speech delivered from the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Biden said for the first time that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power,” edging toward calling for regime change in Moscow.