Biden reassuring NATO allies on Ukraine trip

Biden reassuring NATO allies on Ukraine trip

WARSAW AP - President Joe Biden is wrapping up his whirlwind four-day visit to Poland and Ukraine by reassuring eastern flank NATO allies that his administration is well tuned to the looming threats and other impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Before leaving Warsaw on Wednesday, Biden will hold talks with leaders from the Bucharest Nine, a collection of nations that came together in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

The Bucharest Nine countries' anxieties have been heightened as the war in Ukraine drags on. If he wins the election in Ukraine, many worry that Putin will take military action against them. The alliance includes Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

When Russia invaded, it wasn't just Ukraine that was tested. Biden said in an address from the foot of Warsaw's Royal Castle on Tuesday that the whole world was facing a test for the ages, to mark the somber milestone of the year-old Russian invasion. Europe was being tested. America was being tested. NATO was being tested. Democracies were being tested. Biden met with Moldovan President Maia Sandu on Tuesday in Warsaw, who claimed last week that Moscow was behind a plot to overthrow her country's government using external saboteurs.

Biden said of Sandu and her country that he is proud to stand with you and the freedom-loving people of Moldova.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago, Moldova, a former Soviet republic of about 2.6 million people, has tried to forge closer ties with its Western partners. The EU candidate status was granted in June of last year, the same day as Ukraine.

Sandu spoke about a Russian plot to overthrow the constitutional order last week. She spoke out after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country had intercepted Russian secret services plans to destroy Moldova. The 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 gesture of solidarity with the Ukraine. The address was part of the affirmation of Europe's role in helping Ukraine repel Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine and part sharply worded warning to Putin that the U.S. won't abide Moscow defeating Ukraine.

The White House praised several eastern flank countries, including Lithuania, Poland and Romania, for stepping up their efforts to back Ukraine with weapons and economic aid and taking in refugees over the last year.

Biden has given particular attention to Poland's efforts. The country is hosting 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees and has committed $3.8 billion in military and economic assistance to Kyiv.

Biden said at the talks with Duda that the United States needs to have Poland and NATO as much as NATO needs the United States.