Biden Steps in to Replace Harris in Visit to Europe

The President addressed a watching nation just one day after Russia initiated its invasion of Ukraine late last month. In his statement, he called President Putin’s “unjustified attack” a “premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.” Even as he strongly condemned the Kremlin’s actions, all follow-on coordination with NATO allies took place stateside in the days (and weeks) that have followed. In what many consider a break from tradition, the White House sent Vice President Kamala Harris to Europe to engage in diplomacy, offer reassurance to NATO partners, and meet with heads of state.

Earlier this month, The Hill reported on the administration’s dispatch of Kamala Harris in place of the President, noting no immediate plans for an upcoming presidential visit to Europe. Sources cited within the article suggested a reason for this was the “heavier logistical lift” required for movement of the President, while “The vice president has a smaller footprint and is historically more nimble.”

Now at nearly a month into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House announced plans for the President’s travel to Europe this week to meet with European allies and leaders. According to a statement from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, the President “will travel to Poland following his meetings in Brussels, Belgium with our NATO Allies, G7 Leaders, and European Union Leaders to discuss international efforts to support Ukraine and impose severe and unprecedented costs on Russia for its invasion.” Biden plans also to engage in a bilateral meeting later this week with Polish President Andrzej Duda to discuss the U.S.’s role in addressing the humanitarian crisis stemming from Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

Voice of America called Biden’s trip this week to Europe “a critical week for diplomacy.” European leaders will specifically discuss imposing stiffer consequences on Russia for its actions in Ukraine. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg additionally convened an “extraordinary meeting of Allied Heads of State and Government” to take place in Brussels on Thursday. Alongside additional consequences for Russia, NATO allies will reiterate their joint support of Ukraine and means of strengthening the alliance and defense of NATO territory.

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Aly is a military spouse and mom to two. She has a special interest in international security and foreign affairs, having lived overseas, worked with Sister Cities International and served as a commissioning editor for an international relations website. Aly holds a Masters in Global Studies and International Relations from Northeastern University and currently resides in Tennessee.
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