Biden to meet NATO leaders on eastern flank amid Russia concerns

WARSAW (AP) — President Joe Biden He is wrapping up his four-day trip to Poland and Ukraine by assuring eastern NATO allies that his administration is more attuned to the threats and other implications posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Before leaving Warsaw on Wednesday, Biden will hold talks with the leaders of the Bucharest Nine, a group of countries on the eastern flanks of the NATO alliance that came together in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

As the war in Ukraine drags on, the concerns of the Bucharest Nine have grown. Many worry that a victory in Ukraine could prompt military action against Putin next. The alliance includes Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

“When Russia invaded, it didn’t just test Ukraine. The whole world faced an ordeal for the ages,” Biden said in a speech from the foot of Warsaw’s Royal Castle on Tuesday, marking the grim milestone of a year-long Russian invasion. “Europe is tested. America is tested. NATO is tested. All democracies are tested.

Biden met in Warsaw on Tuesday with Moldovan President Maia Sandu, who last week said Moscow was behind a plot to overthrow her country’s government using outside saboteurs.

The eastern European country, which includes Ukraine and Romania and one of Europe’s poorest countries, has historic ties to Russia but wants to join the 27-nation European Union. In his remarks, Biden endorsed Moldova’s bid to join the European Union

“I am proud to stand with you and the freedom-loving people of Moldova,” Biden said of Sandu and his country in his Tuesday speech.

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

Chandu last week spoke of a Russian plot to “subvert the constitutional order”. He spoke after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country had intercepted plans by Russian secret services to destroy Moldova. Those claims were later confirmed by Moldovan intelligence officials.

Biden’s speech about the war in Ukraine came a day after a surprise visit to Kyiv, a major gesture of solidarity with Ukraine. Part confirmation of Europe’s role in helping Ukraine repel Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine and part stern warning to Putin that the US will not tolerate Moscow defeating Ukraine.

The White House has praised several Eastern European countries, including Lithuania, Poland and Romania, over the past year for stepping up efforts to support Ukraine by sending arms and economic aid and taking in refugees.

Biden has paid particular attention to Poland’s efforts. The country hosts about 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees and has provided $3.8 billion in military and economic aid to Kyiv.

“The fact of the matter is: America needs Poland and NATO as much as NATO needs America,” Biden said during talks with Duda on Wednesday.

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