Locals Fear Putin Senses Biden’s Anxiety as Harris Faces Largest Diplomatic Challenge

Washington rebuffed Poland’s offer to supply Ukraine with jets from an American airbase, believing Russian President Vladimir Putin would see the move as an escalation. 

Due to Poland’s 300-mile border with Ukraine, it was decided to first deploy the jets to the US Air Force’s Ramstein Air Base in Germany, avoiding any accusations of wartime involvement by Russia. 

Hindrances From The White House

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated Poland has the “green light” to deploy its aircraft to Ukraine.

After the Biden presidency rejected the offer, actor Sean Penn chimed in on Wednesday, suggesting a public outcry could break the bureaucratic stalemate between Washington and Warsaw.

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Thursday, entering into a live diplomatic dispute as conflict rampages on Europe’s borders.

As an associate fellow at CNAS’ Transatlantic Security Program, Carisa Nietsche says the Trans-Atlantic alliance is far from entirely consultative and coordinated in its approach.

Her work to connect the US and Poland will be closely watched as she is the highest-ranking envoy.

Officials declined to specify whether the vice president would bring any items sought by Poland. It was uncertain whether a deal to deliver jets to Ukraine could be reached.

The vice president will strengthen ties with NATO allies as fears of a spillover conflict grow. President Biden has committed to not sending troops to Ukraine, instead using economic diplomacy to deter Putin.

While crushing US and EU sanctions have ravaged Russia’s economy, the Kremlin has shown no signs of relenting.

The White House warned Russia might use chemical weapons in Ukraine. Russian soldiers have also taken Zaporizhzhia and Chernobyl.

Officials in Ukraine and refugees fleeing their homes slam Washington’s slow response. 

Nuclear Radiation

Days into the war, Uljana Zamaslo, an English teacher, evacuated Lviv for Poland. At one point, a Ukrainian-American asked why the US didn’t help when Russia attacked Ukraine’s nuclear sites.

Nuclear war isn’t the answer, says Zamaslo, who adds letting the Russians bomb nuclear power stations isn’t the answer either.

She noted while Poles dread nuclear war, they are also concerned about radiation from the bombs dropped on nuclear plants. Though Biden is anxious about the future.

A blistering denunciation of Trans-Atlantic leaders was Harris’ response to Zelensky in Munich last month. He accused officials of Ukraine of following an “appeasement” strategy toward Russia, allowing the crisis on Ukraine’s borders to develop.

Within days, over 150,000 Russian forces advanced along Ukraine’s borders. This is a widening diplomatic range, according to historian Joel Goldstein.

While traveling to or near combat zones is not unusual for vice presidents, it “reflects her engagement in sensitive issues,” said Goldstein of Saint Louis University School of Law.

Following Warsaw, Harris will proceed to Bucharest, Romania, to discuss bilaterally with President Klaus Iohannis.

A second senior government official said conversations with European leaders bolstered Harris as Russia’s threats grew in November.

“We saw signals of a Russian buildup when she initially traveled to Paris,” the official said.