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Biden heads to Belgium and Poland to address Russia's war on Ukraine

Biden in Brussels for monumental NATO summit
Biden in Brussels for monumental NATO summit 02:03

President Biden is heading to Belgium and Poland Wednesday to meet with NATO members and European allies on maintaining a unified front against Russia's war in Ukraine

He's expected to arrive Wednesday in Brussels, Belgium, where he'll meet with NATO allies, G7 partners and European Union leaders. Afterward, he'll head to Warsaw, Poland, to meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address world leaders gathering in Brussels Thursday for an extraordinary meeting of the alliance. 

Mr. Biden will join international partners in imposing further sanctions on Russia while he's abroad, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said. The Poland stop was added in part to thank Duda for his assistance to refugees and for his partnership in general, White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted. 

Poland has taken in more Ukrainians than any surrounding country — about 2 million Ukrainians have flooded into Poland since the war began in late February. Although some have left for other countries, most are still believed to be in Poland, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.

"This is an opportunity for him to thank President Duda for welcoming refugees, as they have done over the last few weeks, and for being an important partner in providing a range of assistance to the Ukrainians — to the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian government," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said of the president's trip Monday. "And they are an important partner as we — as we work to remain unified in the weeks and months ahead."

Psaki was supposed to head to Europe with the president, but tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday. 

As he left the White House Wednesday morning, Mr. Biden said the possibility that Russia could resort to chemical warfare is a "real threat." 

Stoltenberg on Wednesday said Russia "must stop its nuclear saber-rattling."

"This is dangerous and it is irresponsible," Stoltenberg said. "Any use of nuclear weapons will fundamentally change the nature of the conflict. And Russia must understand that a nuclear war should never be fought."

The president's trip comes as Russian forces have encountered fierce resistance from Ukrainians and have yet to take Kyiv, Ukraine's capital. A senior U.S. defense official told reporters Tuesday the U.S. is starting to see indications the Ukrainians are now able to take back territory the Russians have seized, and Ukrainians are fighting to take back the cities of Izyum and Kherson. 

The Russians are at slightly under 90% of the combat power they assembled around Ukraine before the invasion, the defense official said. The Pentagon is seeing indicators that Russians are concerned about keeping their ships fueled, and some of the Russian soldiers are suffering from frostbite because they don't have the right gear. 

— Olivia Gazis contributed to this report.

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