Polish president visits White House to urge more NATO spending, calls on U.S. to fund Ukraine


WASHINGTON (AP) — polishing President Andrzej Duda made a joint visit to the White House on Tuesday with political rival Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, calling on NATO allies to significantly increase defense spending and urging a divided Washington to break an impasse over replenishing funding for Ukraine at a critical moment. In the war in Europe.

Duda wants NATO members to increase defense spending to 3% of GDP Russia Put their own economy on a war footing and advance their plans to conquer Ukraine. Poland already spends 4% of its economic output on defense, double the current 2% target for NATO countries.

Polish president pushes NATO allies to increase defense spending

this Polish leader He and Tusk made the call as they visited Washington to mark the 25th anniversary of the two countries joining the transatlantic military alliance, which now has 32 members. It was a historic step into the West after emerging from decades of communist rule in Moscow.

President Joe Biden meets with Polish President Andrzej Duda and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday, March 12, 2024, in Washington.

“Russian aggression in Ukraine really shows that the United States is and should continue to be the security leader,” Duda said. “But other allies have to take more responsibility for the security of the entire alliance. 10 years ago, 2 percent was good. Now 3% is needed to respond to a full-scale war waged by Russia beyond NATO’s eastern borders.”

Biden called the United States’ commitment to Poland ironclad, expressed surprise at Poland’s current defense spending, and thanked Poland’s leader for taking in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees after Russia launched its February 2022 invasion. But he did not respond directly to Duda’s call for NATO members to increase spending.

“There is no force in the world more powerful than when we stand together,” Biden recalled Secretary of State Madeleine Albright saying as she joined the alliance in Poland. “I believed it then and I believe it now. We see Polish and American troops fighting alongside NATO on the eastern flank, including in Poland.”

However, Biden administration officials said before the meeting that Duda’s call for higher defense spending targets among NATO countries may be, at least for now, too ambitious.

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“I think the first step is to get every country up to the 2% threshold, and we’ve seen improvements on that,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. “But I think that’s before we start discussing additional proposals. The first step.”

The visit comes amid a stalemate between Democrat Biden and House Republicans in Washington over Ukraine funding. House Republicans blocked a $118 billion bipartisan package that would have included $60 billion for Ukraine, as well as money for Israel, Taiwan and U.S. border security.

The Pentagon announced on Tuesday it would provide an emergency supply of about $300 million worth of weapons to Ukraine after finding some cost savings in the contract. This is the first Ukrainian security plan announced by the Biden administration since it admitted in December that it had run out of supplemental funding.

Biden said the funding doesn’t go far enough and pointed to Poland’s own history to argue for further funding.

“We must act before it’s too late,” Biden said. “Because Poland remembers, Russia will not stop at Ukraine. Putin will continue to advance, putting Europe, the United States and the entire free world at risk.”

Duda met with U.S. lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday ahead of a meeting at the White House. And bluntly warned: If the United States does not provide military assistance to stop Russia’s advance, Poland will be on the front line of the conflict between European and American troops.

“Financial support for Ukraine is cheap if you take into account what other forms of support are needed for war and attacks on NATO countries,” Duda said.

Tusk called on Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson to pass funding for Ukraine after the White House meeting, warning that his failure to act could “lead to thousands of lives lost in Ukraine.”

“This is not just a political conflict that makes sense in the American political arena,” Tusk said.

Biden told leaders that the United States plans to advance a foreign military financing loan to help Poland purchase 96 Apache helicopters. The U.S. State Department approved the sale last year.

The visit provides Biden another opportunity to show how his views on NATO contrast with those of likely 2024 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

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Trump said that while he was president, he warned NATO allies that he “would encourage” Russia to “do whatever it wants” against countries that “failed” to meet alliance defense spending targets.white house press secretary

Concern over Ukraine’s fate is deepening across Europe as Ukraine’s ammunition stockpiles run low and Russia makes gains on the Ukrainian battlefield, reversing a weak military performance at the start of the war it launched in February 2022.

Tusk said Poland was united on security issues despite political differences, and Russia and Ukraine expected the same from other allies.

Tusk said: “When we Poles set out on the road to the West, Pope John Paul II said that without an independent Poland there would be no just Europe. And today I want to say that without an independent Poland Without a strong Poland, there will be no safe Europe.” Of course, I also want to say that without a free and independent Ukraine, there will be no just Europe. “

According to Polish media reports, this is the first time in a quarter of a century that the Polish president and prime minister have visited Washington at the same time, and it is also the first time that both leaders have been welcomed in the White House at the same time. The gesture by the fierce political rival is widely seen as an acknowledgment of the seriousness of this historical moment, with Russia’s power growing as Ukraine declines.

Duda, allied with the National Conservative Party, which lost power last year, used his power to delay the transition to a new government under Tusk for weeks.

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Tusk won power on a promise to restore democratic norms that had eroded under the previous government, and Poland is hailed by many in Europe as one of the only countries in recent years to reverse growing authoritarianism.

“No matter who wins the election in our country, we take our obligations more seriously than anyone else in Europe,” Tusk said.



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By Ali Raza

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