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Biden’s visit underscores Poland’s role as NATO’s eastern flank leader: French media

The U.S. President’s visit to Poland, the second one within a span of a year, underscores the status of Poland as leader of NATO’s eastern flank, writes the French “La Croix” daily.

“The center of gravity is shifting east,” assessed the daily. However, the article adds that the U.S. will not play “old Europe” against “new Europe”, the way George W. Bush’s administration did during the War in Iraq.

“I doubt this paradigm will surface again now,” said Jaques Rupnik, an expert on East-Central Europe at the “SciencePo” Center for International Research, who claims that Biden, who remembers the times of the Cold War, appreciates European unity.

“La Croix” stressed that Polish-U.S. relations, which have deteriorated somewhat following Biden’s election to the White House, have improved after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The daily reminds readers that Poland became part of the U.S. “Foreign Military Financing” program in order to boost the country’s defensive capabilities and that the government in Warsaw signed several arms deals with the U.S., including for the delivery of Abrams tanks and HIMARS rocket artillery systems.

“The Poles are not ready to rely on France, suspected of being overly lenient toward Putin, or on Germany, from whom they still demand reparations for World War II,” Rupnik assessed.

Poland will spend more than 4 pct. of its GDP on defense this year, points out the daily. This is well in excess of the 2 pct. target agreed upon by the alliance’s member states back in 2014 [the year Russia annexed Crimea and started a proxy war in eastern Ukraine; TVP World], although not all NATO members have been delivering on the pledge.

Biden’s visit to Kyiv

Although officially President Biden was supposed to leave for Poland on Monday evening, the U.S. leader left a day early and without notifying the media. According to the “New York Times”, Air Force one carrying Biden took off at around 4.15 am Washington D.C. time, in order to pay his previously undisclosed visit to Kyiv.

The media have speculated whether Biden would meet with Zelenskyy, while Biden administration’s press officials were reluctant to confirm or deny whether the two presidents would meet at all.

“Rolling Stone” magazine reported that there were several plans as to how Biden and Zelenskyy could meet face-to-face: either at the Polish-Ukrainian border or in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine which is not a prime target of Russian missile attacks as much as the Ukrainian capital, which Secret Service in charge of protecting the U.S. President considered possibly too dangerous. However, it was Kyiv that was settled upon down to its symbolic nature as the Ukrainian capital, and which has been a target of the Russian invaders from Day One.

A U.S. official anonymously told NYT that after a transatlantic flight, Biden boarded a train that took him from Poland to Kyiv.

All plans, however, appear to have required Polish involvement in order to facilitate the visit.

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