As Poland Grapples With The Inflow Of Ukrainian Refugees, Biden Heads There

President Joe Biden will go to southeastern Poland on Friday to meet with US troops and relief workers supporting refugees in a country on the front lines of Ukraine’s humanitarian and military conflict. Biden will travel to Rzeszow to express gratitude for the tens of thousands of American troops who began arriving at a military installation there last month. The Polish facility is fewer than 100 kilometers from a Ukrainian military installation where Russian missiles were launched earlier this month. Biden said he will attempt to visit with some of the migrants before returning to Washington on Saturday. “I’ve been to refugee camps, I’ve been in war zones for the last 15 years, and it’s devastating,” Biden said at a news conference Thursday. He said the meeting with refugees in Poland would “reinforce my commitment to have the United States make sure we are a major piece of dealing with the relocation of all those folks.”

With over 2 million Ukrainians flooding into the nation, Poland has taken the burden of the refugee crisis. While Poland has welcomed the refugees with open arms, giving them jobs, health care, and education for their children, the tremendous influx in just a month has begun to strain places such as Warsaw, where the population is estimated to have increased by 300,000. “Poland is among the top countries that feel the most at risk over this ongoing invasion. You had bombs going off not far from their border,” said Barry Pavel, who was a defense policy adviser in the administrations of President George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “This is a really, really important stop.”

Biden is in Poland following a series of meetings with world leaders in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday, in which he aimed to persuade other countries to do more to help Ukraine and punish Russia. While in Poland, Biden will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda to “address how the United States, in collaboration with our allies and partners, is responding to the humanitarian and human rights crises produced by Russia’s unlawful and unprovoked attack on Ukraine.” The White House said that up to 100,000 Ukrainians would be allowed to enter the United States, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable. Following the interruptions to the Russian and Ukrainian agricultural economies, the administration expects to spend over $1 billion on humanitarian aid and $11 billion over the next five years to address global food security issues.

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According to the White House, the United States has provided $123 million to help Ukraine’s border countries deal with the crisis, including $48 million to Poland. US officials are working to set up programs that provide refugees with temporary food, lodging, and medical care, as well as legal aid and mental health support. The US announced additional sanctions against Russia on Thursday that would affect over 400 Russians and entities, including the Duma and over 300 of its members, as well as over 40 defense businesses. The White House also stated that it would take more steps to prevent Russia from attempting to prop up its economy, including making it plain that any gold transactions involving Russian institutions are illegal, as well as directing firms to cease conducting business with Russia as usual.

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