Harris Pledges Support to Poland Amid Flood of Ukrainian Refugees

By Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino covers the White House.
March 10, 2022 Updated: March 10, 2022

Vice President Kamala Harris has pledged U.S. support to Poland as the European country is being flooded with refugees fleeing Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian invasion.

Harris met on March 10 with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw to discuss defense and humanitarian aid meant to support Poland and address the nearly 1.5 million people who have entered the country from Ukraine in the past 10 days.

Duda spoke of the need for international assistance to help Poland accommodate the Ukrainian refugees amid a pending “refugee disaster,” and Harris thanked Poland for its “extraordinary act of generosity.”

“The United States is absolutely prepared to do what we can and what we must to support Poland in terms of the burden they have taken on,” Harris said.

Harris announced nearly $53 million in U.S. support to the U.N. World Food Program to provide emergency food assistance to those affected by the conflict, including those displaced from their homes and who are crossing the border out of Ukraine.

This comes less than two weeks after the United States pledged nearly $54 million in direct assistance to Ukraine, and a day after the U.S. House of Representatives approved $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine as part of its $1.5 trillion spending plan to keep U.S. government programs operating through Sept. 30.

The United States has also delivered a patriot missile system to Poland and sent 4,700 troops there in addition to its normal rotational military presence inside the NATO ally country.

Both Harris and Duda made calls on March 10 for war crimes investigations into Russia’s military activity in Ukraine. Harris expressed outrage over reports the day before of the Russian bombing of a maternity hospital.

“Absolutely there should be an investigation, and we should all be watching,” Harris said. “I have no question the eyes of the world are on this war and what Russia has done in terms of this aggression and these atrocities.”

Duda went a step further, saying, “It is obvious to us that in Ukraine, Russians are committing war crimes.” He added that in his view, the invasion was “bearing the features of a genocide—it aims at eliminating and destroying a nation.”

The bilateral meeting came days after the Pentagon turned down a plan proposed by the Polish government—citing logistical challenges as well as concerns that Russian President Vladimir Putin would see the move as escalatory—to transfer Polish fighter planes to a U.S. military base in Germany to then send to Ukraine to help fend off Russian forces. The plan called for the United States to then compensate Poland with U.S.-made jets.

“I want to be very clear, the United States and Poland are united in what we have done and are prepared to do to help Ukraine and the people of Ukraine, full stop,” Harris said in response to a question about the planes.

The vice president is also scheduled to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while in Warsaw. The Canadian leader has been in Europe in recent days meeting with allies about Ukraine.

Harris will travel on March 11 to Bucharest, where she’s set to meet Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino covers the White House.