Joe Biden takes a selfie with US soldiers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at the G2 Arena in Jasionka, Poland, on Friday. Reuters
President Joe Biden has given a pep talk to US troops stationed in Poland near the border with Ukraine. Biden said he wanted to visit Friday to thank members of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division for their service. He added that it’s "not hyperbole” when he says they are the "finest fighting force in the world.”
The president told the fatigue-clad men and women that they are an "amazing group” and he reminisced about his late son, Beau, who served in the Delaware Army National Guard.
Biden visited some troops at lunch at their temporary headquarters in Rzeszow and chowed down on a slice of pepperoni and jalapeno pepper pizza. He also visited others who were getting haircuts at the barbershop.
Poland is the second stop on Biden’s four-day trip to Europe. He spent Thursday in Brussels meeting with world leaders on the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden is scheduled Saturday to meet separately with Poland’s president and Ukrainian refugees before he heads back to Washington.
Joe Biden eats pizza as he meets with US soldiers in Jasionka, near Rzeszow, Poland. Reuters
"You are in the midst of a fight between democracies and oligarchs," Biden said, referring to rich Russians who have faced Western sanctions since the war started on Feb. 24. "What's at stake is what are your kids and grandkids going to look like in terms of their freedom," Biden said.
Biden's schedule in Poland was briefly delayed after the plane carrying President Andrzej Duda was turned back on route to Rzeszow and made an emergency landing in Warsaw. Duda later boarded a different aircraft and headed back. An official in his office said Duda had not been in any danger.
Joe Biden takes a selfie as he meets service members from the 82nd Airborne Division in Poland. AFP
Biden received a briefing on the humanitarian response to help civilians sheltering from Russian attacks inside Ukraine and to respond to the growing flow of refugees fleeing Ukraine.
"I'm here in Poland to see first hand the humanitarian crisis," he said at the start of a meeting with NGOs, US and Polish officials and Duda. "Quite frankly part of my disappointment is I can't see it first hand like I have in other places. They won't let me, understandably, I guess, cross the border and take a look at what's going on in Ukraine."
Joe Biden meets service members from the 82nd Airborne Division in Poland. AFP
Poland has taken in more than 2.23 million people fleeing violence in Ukraine, out of some 3.7 million all together who have poured over borders across central Europe during the last four weeks.
"Hundreds of thousands of people are being cut off from help by Russian forces and are besieged in places like Mariupol," Biden said in a reference to the port city in eastern Ukraine which has been under siege since the war's early days. "It's like something out of a science fiction movie."
Biden told reporters in Brussels on Thursday that his visit 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."
In Rzeszow, TV footage showed him sharing a pepperoni and jalapeno pizza and chatting with US paratroopers gathered in the base's cafeteria. "I just came by to say thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you."Reuters/ AP
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