In Poland, Biden will be a short drive from the Ukrainian border
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Having met with leaders of NATO allies, President Biden is visiting one in particular. He's in Poland, which borders Ukraine and which has received more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees, the most of any country. A lot of Western weapons and supplies are passing the other way through Poland to Ukraine, and the president will be just a short drive from the Ukrainian border. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith is covering the story. She's in Warsaw. Hey there, Tam.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hi.
INSKEEP: What's the president doing?
KEITH: He's getting a firsthand look at how this country is dealing with Europe's most significant refugee crisis since World War II. He's landing in Rzeszow. This is a small city that's a first stop for many people leaving Ukraine. And yesterday, he said seeing this disruption caused by the war will drive home why the U.S. needs to take in thousands of refugees, which it plans to do.
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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It will reinforce my commitment to have the United States make sure we are a major piece of dealing with the relocation of all those folks, as well as humanitarian assistance needed both inside Ukraine and outside Ukraine. For example, this is not something that Poland or Romania or Germany should carry on their own.
KEITH: The U.S. is also committing at least $1 billion in new humanitarian aid.
INSKEEP: And the president now is - his visit is in a city about 60 miles from the Ukrainian border. He's getting pretty close to the situation here.
KEITH: Yeah, there is a significance to this stop because he is going into the heart of the humanitarian crisis. And it's truly not that far from where a missile strike hit last week. Yesterday at NATO, he reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Article 5. That's the idea that if one NATO member is attacked, the entire alliance treats it as if they were all attacked. While in Rzeszow, Biden is checking in with U.S. troops with the U.S. Airborne Division who are staged there, and that's a visible display of the Article 5 commitment, a signal to Putin that Poland is a member of NATO and is off-limits.
INSKEEP: Although I guess we should note once again, the 82nd Airborne may be in Poland; there's no plan to put them across the border into Ukraine. The U.S. and NATO response here, in terms of pushing back, has mainly been weapons and economic sanctions. Are the sanctions working?
KEITH: President Biden was pressed on this yesterday because many members of his administration had said that the threat of massive sanctions might serve as a deterrent for Putin. That obviously didn't happen. But Biden insisted that sanctions require time to get results.
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BIDEN: The maintenance of sanctions, the - increasing the pain and the demonstration, why I asked for this NATO meeting today, is to be sure that after a month, we will sustain what we're doing, not just next month, the following month, but for the remainder of this entire year. That's what will stop him.
KEITH: Of course, there's a big carve-out in the sanctions thus far, and that's energy. Europeans and other partners need Russian oil and gas, and that means Russia is still getting money, and that money can help offset some of the other hits to its economy. Today Biden announced a new task force with Europe to look for ways to move more liquefied natural gas to Europe and diversify away from Russian supplies. The amount that they're talking about is relatively modest, and there's a lot of wiggle room in there, and that just highlights that this is something easier said than done and that the government doesn't necessarily have a lot of control here.
INSKEEP: Yeah, Europe depends on a lot of that energy. Tam, thanks so much.
KEITH: You're welcome.
INSKEEP: NPR's Tamara Keith is in Warsaw. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.