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Biden lands in Belgium for NATO summit on Russian war in Ukraine, will also visit Poland

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President Joe Biden speaks to reporters at the White House before boarding Marine One in Washington, D.C. on March 23, 2022. Pool photo by Samuel Corum/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/3535203ddd7c28d2ae1b50c6c0e8ebed/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
President Joe Biden speaks to reporters at the White House before boarding Marine One in Washington, D.C. on March 23, 2022. Pool photo by Samuel Corum/UPI | License Photo

March 23 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden arrived in Europe on Wednesday, where he is first set to hold talks with NATO allies in Belgium over Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine.

Biden touched down in Brussels, Belgium, where he will attend a NATO summit on the fighting, as well as a scheduled European Union Summit and a Group of Seven meeting before traveling to Warsaw, Poland, on Friday to hold a bilateral meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

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The president left Washington, D.C., Wednesday morning and landed in Belgium at around 4 p.m. EDT.

"All I have to say, I'm going to say it when I get there," Biden said of his message for world leaders as he left the White House, also acknowledging to reporters that the threat of Russia using chemical weapons in Ukraine is "real."

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden is a "big believer in face-to-face diplomacy" as he seeks to discuss "where we are at this point" in responding to the invasion.

While at the NATO summit, which is scheduled for Thursday, Psaki said the president and European leaders will examine "ongoing deterrence and defense efforts" in Ukraine, while "shared concerns about Ukraine, including trans-Atlantic efforts to impose economic costs on Russia, provide humanitarian support" would be key talking points at the European Council summit.

During Thursday's meetings, Biden and the European leaders are expected to announce new sanctions against Russia and other methods to punish those who seek to circumvent existing sanctions.

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"For the past few months, the West has been united," national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday. "The president is traveling to Europe to ensure we stay united, to cement our collective resolve, to send a powerful message that we are prepared and committed to this for as long as it takes."

Psaki said that Biden's trip to Poland, which was added to the schedule days before his departure, will include talks with Duda about the response to the "humanitarian and human rights crisis" in Ukraine.

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Sullivan said that Poland has "taken the brunt of the humanitarian impact outside of Ukraine in terms of the refugee flows," as more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees have sought refuge in the neighboring country, which is protected by NATO.

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The United States sent a significant number of troops to Poland last month to support Ukraine and NATO deterrence efforts.

"Poland has to contend not just with the war in Ukraine, but with Russia's military deployments to Belarus, which have fundamentally changed the security equation there," Sullivan added.

Presently, Biden does not have plans to visit Ukraine -- mainly due to concerns about entering a major war zone -- and he's not expected to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in person during the Europe trip. Last week, Zelensky made a rare address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in which he called on swift and decisive U.S. support, including a no-fly zone over Ukraine to block Russian airstrikes.

Biden's trip to Europe on Wednesday comes after Vice President Kamala Harris visited Poland and Romania and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Eastern Europe earlier this month.

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Psaki was supposed to accompany Biden on the European trip, but will no stay home instead after she tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Scenes from the rubble: Russian forces attack Ukraine capital, Kyiv

Ukrainian service members stand beside a damaged building in a residential area after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 18. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo

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