U.S President Joe Biden is scheduled to hold meetings with eastern flank NATO allies.
In bringing his four-day visit to Poland and Ukraine to an end, Biden intends to reassure the eastern flank NATO leaders that his administration is highly attuned to the looming threats and other impacts spurred by the grinding Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Before departing Warsaw on Wednesday, February 22, 2023, Biden will hold talks with leaders from the Bucharest Nine, a collection of nations on the most eastern parts of the NATO alliance that came together in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
As the war in Ukraine drags on, the Bucharest Nine countries’ anxieties have remained heightened. Many worry Putin could move to take military action against them next if he is successful in Ukraine.
The alliance includes Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
“When Russia invaded, it wasn’t just Ukraine being tested. The whole world faced a test for the ages,” Biden said in an address from the foot of Warsaw’s Royal Castle on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, to mark the somber milestone of the year-old Russian invasion.
“Europe was being tested. America was being tested. NATO was being tested. All democracies were being tested,” Biden added.
On Tuesday, February 21, 2023, Biden met with Moldovan President Maia Sandu in Warsaw. He also held a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania and one of Europe’s poorest countries, the Eastern European nation has had historic ties to Russia but wants to join the 27-nation European Union. Biden in his remarks endorsed Moldova’s bid to join the EU.
“I’m proud to stand with you and the freedom-loving people of Moldova,” Biden said of Sandu and her country in his Tuesday address.
Biden described NATO as “maybe the most consequential alliance in history,” and he said it’s “stronger than it’s ever been” despite the Russian leader’s hopes that it would fracture over the war in Ukraine.
President Andrzej Duda praised the American President’s visit to Kyiv as “spectacular,” saying it “boosted morale of Ukraine’s defenders.”
Moldova Forges Closer Ties With Western Partners
Since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago, Moldova, a former Soviet republic of about 2.6 million people, has sought to forge closer ties with its Western partners. Last June, it was granted EU candidate status, the same day as Ukraine.
Sandu spoke out last week about a Russian plot “to overthrow the constitutional order.” She spoke out after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country had intercepted plans by Russian secret services to destroy Moldova. Those claims were later confirmed by Moldovan intelligence officials.
Biden’s speech on the Ukraine war came one day after he made a surprise visit to Kyiv, a grand gesture of solidarity with the Ukraine. The address was part affirmation of Europe’s role in helping Ukraine repel Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The White House has praised several eastern flank countries, including Lithuania, Poland and Romania, over the last year for stepping up efforts to back Ukraine with weapons and economic aid and taking in refugees.
Biden has given particular attention to Poland’s efforts. The country is hosting about 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees and has committed $3.8 billion in military and economic assistance to Kyiv.
“The truth of the matter is; The United States needs Poland and NATO as much as NATO needs the United States,” Biden said during talks with Duda.