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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Biden leaves Poland after vowing to defend NATO’s eastern flank

By Michael D. Shear

President Joe Biden left Poland aboard Air Force One on Wednesday evening after reiterating America’s commitment to defending Europe from Russian aggression at a meeting with the leaders of NATO’s eastern-flank nations.

White House officials said Biden and the leaders of the Bucharest Nine, a group of countries located in the shadow of the Ukraine war, deepened and reaffirmed their determination to help Ukraine resist the Russian invasion.

“You’re on the front line for our collective defense,” Biden told the other leaders at the beginning of the meeting. “And you know better than anyone what’s at stake in this conflict, not just for Ukraine, but for the freedom of democracies throughout Europe and around the world.”

The response from the leaders was plain: If President Vladimir Putin of Russia were to order tanks into other European countries, the nine nations along NATO’s eastern flank would be the likeliest targets.

With Biden listening, President Klaus Iohannis of Romania urged the group to stand firmly behind Ukraine, in part as a way of securing peace for the people living within the Soviet Union’s old sphere of influence.

“The war has brought nothing but suffering and despair, killing and displacing of millions of Ukrainians, unprecedented destruction and uncertainty,” Iohannis said. “We, the leaders of the eastern flank, have the duty to stand firm in defense of our peace.”

The meeting Wednesday concluded Biden’s three-day visit to Europe around the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, including a surprise trek by train to Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, and a speech from the royal palace in Warsaw, Poland, to declare the U.S. commitment to stand against Russian aggression.

Biden is expected to land back in the Washington area late Wednesday, officials said.

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