- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 26, 2022

President Biden on Saturday attended a meeting of Ukrainian officials in Poland in an attempt to smooth things over after the war-torn country’s top officials slammed the lack of action during this week’s emergency NATO summit.

Mr. Biden dropped by a meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and their Ukrainian counterparts, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.

After the meeting, Mr. Kuleba told reporters that the U.S. pledged additional defense support for Ukraine

“Today we did receive additional promises from the United States on how our defense cooperation will evolve,” Mr. Kuleba told reporters in Warsaw, adding  that “no other country provided Ukraine with more support than the United States.”

“Ukrainian stamina and Western weapons, mostly American weapons, is the recipe for success on the battleground,” Mr. Kuleba said.

“We have some European countries who need to be convinced and who need to be taken on board as well, so we agreed today with my counterpart, Secretary Blinken, on how we will be working together with them,” he added. 

During a photo-op ahead of the meeting, officials from both countries struck a friendly tone. They made small talk about how the Ukraine officials’ trip to Poland included rail travel and a three-hour car ride. 

Mr. Kuleba compared his trip to a long flight from Kyiv to Washington with a layover in Turkey. 

“The good thing is that since the beginning of the war I’ve learned how to sleep under any conditions. So I slept on the train, I slept in the car,” he told Mr. Biden

Mr. Biden told the ministers about his own experiences traveling by rail. 

“You’re looking at a fellow who’s traveled over a million, 200,000 miles on a train. Literally,” Biden said. “I learned how to sleep.”

The roughly 40-minute meeting took place in Warsaw, where Mr. Biden will later meet with Ukraine refugees and have a bilateral meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Mr. Biden’s meeting with the Ukrainian officials comes after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said his country was let down by NATO.

“We are very disappointed,” Mr. Yermak said of the meeting during a video call with the Atlantic Council. “We expected more bravery. We expected some bold decisions.”

Ukraine was hoping NATO would impose a no-fly zone of its skies or supply it with fighter jets, Mr. Yermak said. The U.S. has vigorously opposed both ideas, fearing it could spark a bigger conflict with Russia.

At the end of the NATO summit, members issued a strongly-worded statement condemning Russia’s invasion. They also imposed new sanctions on Russian politicians but did not announce any new actions.

The U.S. and NATO allies have supplied Ukraine with some weapons, military, and humanitarian aid, but have shied away from taking bold action that could more directly involve them in the war.

Mr. Biden has also repeatedly said he will not send U.S. troops into Ukraine to directly fight Russian troops.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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