An unnamed senior U.S. administration official aboard Air Force Two late Monday night described Vice President Joe Biden's travel to Poland and Lithuania as centrally focused on reassuring American allies in the midst of "Russia's aggressive actions in Ukraine" and strengthening the NATO alliance.
Biden, the official said, will "have the chance to consult with leaders who have deep experience with both Ukraine and Russia and a perspective on both what is happening in Crimea and in Ukraine, and what’s happening Brussels, so that they can compare notes and make sure that we remain as coordinated in the days ahead as we’ve been up until now."
With regard to NATO, Biden will be addressing what steps the U.S. and NATO can take "to further shore up the security of Poland and the Baltics and other NATO allies, to increase training exercises and other things like that." Already, the U.S. and NATO have made progress, the the official remarked, in "augmenting the Baltic air policing mission by adding additional fighter jets in Estonia, and by augmenting the aviation detachment in Poland by adding a complement of fighters there as well."
The vice president is expected to meet with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, and President Hendrik Ilves of Estonia, who is in Poland on a state visit. While in Lithuania, Biden is scheduled to meet with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Latvian President Andris Bērziņš in Vilnius.
General Philip M. Breedlove, Commander of U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, is planning simultaneous meetings in Croatia with the chiefs of defense of Central and Eastern Europe "to discuss," the official said, "a range of security issues."