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Amid concerns about the United States' commitment to supporting Ukraine, President Biden holds meetings with leaders from Poland.
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Amid concerns about the United States’ commitment to supporting Ukraine, President Biden holds meetings with leaders from Poland.

On the day that Poland commemorates 25 years as a member of NATO, President Joe Biden hosted Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Donald Tusk at the White House amid anxiety over future U.S. funding to help Ukraine fend off Moscow’s invasion.

On Tuesday, Biden assured reporters that America’s dedication to Poland is unwavering before the meeting began.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan stated that the administration has recently allocated an additional $300 million in weapons and equipment as part of a security assistance package for Ukraine. These funds were taken from Department of Defense cost savings that were unanticipated.

Biden expressed dissatisfaction with the current package, and urged House Republicans to approve the Senate’s foreign aid package that allocates $60 billion to Ukraine before it becomes too late.

According to Duda, Russia’s hostile actions towards Ukraine have highlighted the United States as the leading nation in terms of security. He urged other members of the alliance to increase their defense budget to 3% of their GDP in order to protect against Russian aggression.

In terms of defense spending, Poland allocates 3.9% of its GDP, which is almost double the current 2% target set by NATO. This percentage is also the highest among all NATO members. The United States is the second largest contributor, at 3.5% of GDP, and the highest overall when looking at dollar amount within NATO.

Duda’s suggestion brings attention to the worries of Poland and other nations on NATO’s eastern border who feel most at risk from Moscow’s aggressive actions. This also coincides with a push from some western members of the alliance for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine.

According to Michal Baranowski, managing director for GMF East at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the goal of reaching 2% GDP target is aspirational and unlikely to be achieved soon due to lack of compliance from several NATO members.

On Monday, Duda expressed concern in an article for The Washington Post about Russia’s excessive focus on military preparedness, as they allocate almost a third of their yearly budget to military expenditures. He emphasized the danger presented by President Vladimir Putin and stated that it is the biggest obstacle to worldwide stability since the period of the Cold War.

More US troops

Duda, who under the Polish system represents the country in foreign affairs, and Tusk, the head of government in Poland, are bitter political rivals intensely locked in various domestic struggles but have vowed to speak with one voice on Ukraine, NATO and relations with Washington.

Warsaw advocates for more U.S. military presence in Poland, where approximately 10,000 U.S. personnel are on rotation. Washington is not keen on the idea, with Biden telling reporters Monday that there is “no need for more troops at the Polish border.”

Sullivan reiterated the statement, stating that the alliance is well-positioned and the plans for defending Poland in a potential situation are robust.

According to Sullivan, the United States plans to proceed with a fresh $2 billion loan to Poland for Foreign Military Financing, and will propose the sale of 96 Apache helicopters to the country. Additionally, on Tuesday, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. State Department informed Congress of their decision to authorize the sale of over $3 billion worth of missiles to Poland.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, center, is welcomed for talks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, center left, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, center right, and other senators at the Capitol in Washington, March 12, 2024.

On March 12, 2024, the Capitol in Washington welcomed Polish President Andrzej Duda for discussions with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and other senators.

Meeting congressional leaders

Earlier on Tuesday, Duda and Tusk met with both Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, where they urged for backing of Ukraine. Duda commented that this support is crucial in order to limit Putin and Russia’s imperialistic goals.

The Democratic Party and the White House are certain that the proposal for providing foreign aid has enough support to be approved by the House of Representatives. However, Republican Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, has declined to schedule a vote on it.

Baranowski informed VOA that it is crucial for Polish leaders to convey to legislators the importance of Washington fulfilling its responsibilities as an ally. However, this is unlikely to be the decisive factor in resolving the current deadlock. Numerous House Republicans are aligned with Donald Trump and stand by his stance against offering foreign assistance unless it is given in the form of a loan.

At the beginning of the week, Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary, stated in an interview with the Hungarian state news channel that Trump has no intention of providing financial support to Ukraine. As a result, Orbán believes the war in Ukraine will come to an end. These remarks were made after Orbán met with Trump last week.

The Trump campaign confirmed that if the former president were to serve a second term, one of their main goals would be to swiftly negotiate an end to the war between Russia and Ukraine. Additionally, they believe that European nations should shoulder a greater financial burden for the conflict.

The communications director for the campaign, Steven Cheung, stated to VOA that he will take actions to bring peace, strengthen America, and enforce deterrence on a global level. He believes that only this person has the capability to achieve this goal.

Trump’s statements have exacerbated the concerns of European nations about America’s dedication to the alliance, especially in the event of a change in leadership following the upcoming presidential election in November.

In a statement made last month, the projected Republican candidate for president expressed his willingness to support Russia’s actions if a NATO member failed to meet defense spending requirements.

Officials in Europe have become more and more worried.

An unnamed European diplomat recently informed VOA that it is important to collectively send a message to Russia, the EU, and the U.S. that there is no weariness and that Ukraine will receive support to defend itself.

NATO summit

The White House stated that the leaders will collaborate on plans before the upcoming NATO 75th Anniversary Summit in Washington in July. Warsaw aims to guarantee that the defense plans for the region, which were agreed upon at the 2023 NATO summit in Vilnius, are not only well thought out, but also properly funded with troops to effectively deter and defend NATO’s eastern border, according to Baranowski.

Another key point is strengthening the energy security partnership between the United States and Poland. In order to achieve this, Warsaw has allocated $40 billion for the construction of two nuclear power plants, with the first plant being developed by Westinghouse, an American corporation.

25 years have passed since both a Polish president and prime minister made a joint visit to Washington. Back in 1999, President Alexander Kwasniewski and Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek were present at the 50th Anniversary Summit of NATO in the American capital.

VOA’s report was aided by Jeff Seldin, a correspondent specializing in national security, and Steve Herman, chief national correspondent.