Harris to meet with Ukrainian refugees in Poland
Vice President Harris will travel to Poland and Romania and meet with Ukrainians who have fled the country since Russia launched its invasion.
Harris will leave on Wednesday and meet with refugees in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday, according to senior administration officials. She will also participate in bilateral meetings with Polish President Andrzej Duda, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who will be in Poland at the same time.
More than 2 million Ukrainians have fled the violence in the country as of Tuesday, which was 12 days into the invasion, and more than 1.2 million are in Poland, according to data from the United Nations.
The vice president plans to meet with Kyiv embassy staff who have relocated to Poland, as well as embassy staff in Warsaw. On Friday, she will meet with U.S. and Polish service members to thank them and then travel to Bucharest, Romania.
In Bucharest, Harris will participate in a bilateral meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and meet with embassy staff.
Officials said Harris will carry with her a three-part message, including that the U.S. stands firmly and resolutely with NATO allies and that the U.S. is continuing support for the Ukrainian people.
Additionally, she will spread the message that Russian President Vladimir Putin “has made a mistake” and highlight the strategic response and sanctions toward Russia, officials said. She will also be focusing on next steps with allies.
When asked about specific next steps, officials said a focus of Harris’s trip is “sending a very, very clear message that Putin will pay a very heavy price and he will see the very negative implications of this invasion.”
Harris is also expected to focus on reinforcing NATO allies, supporting the people of Ukraine, supporting Ukraine with security assistance, imposing economic costs on Russia and defending international rules and norms, officials said.
Officials said Harris has been in a number of sessions and briefings on the situation in Ukraine when asked how she has prepared for the trip.
“She has really been immersed in this issue, as has the president and the rest of the national security team, working intensively on a daily basis on all of the issues that are related to the ongoing crisis resulting from the Russian invasion,” officials said.
Harris last month traveled to the Munich Security Conference and met with several leaders, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. At the time, days before the invasion, she warned that the world is looking at “the real possibility of war in Europe” and said that the U.S. may “incur some cost” if Russia invades Ukraine.
Her trip follows President Biden’s announcement on Tuesday that the U.S. will ban Russian energy imports, which is the latest in the administration’s response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Hill last week reported that the White House was actively discussing sending Harris to the area to visit troops stationed in Romania and to the border.
The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.