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Biden Lauds Poland’s Ukraine Aid, Renews Calls for US Funds

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden thanked Polish leaders visiting the White House for their assistance to Ukraine at a critical point in the war and pressed US lawmakers to approve more funds to help Kyiv repel Russia’s invasion.

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“I want to thank you both for Poland’s unwavering humanitarian assistance,” Biden told Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Donald Tusk at the White House on Tuesday. “As my mother would say, ‘God love you.’”

Biden noted an announcement earlier Tuesday that the US is offering $300 million for Ukraine, with the funds coming from contract savings on weapons bought to replenish those sent to Kyiv earlier.

Earlier: White House Offers $300 Million in Aid for Ukraine Weapons

But he cautioned that package was “not nearly enough” and that Congress needed to act on a national security request that has been stalled by a domestic dispute over immigration and border policy.

“We must act before it really is too late,” Biden said.

As the two countries celebrated the 25th anniversary of Poland’s NATO membership, Biden lauded the country’s defense spending, almost 4% of gross domestic product, double the NATO commitment of 2% of GDP.

“Security comes at a price,” said Duda, who called for raising NATO’s spending threshold to 3%.

“Two percent was good 10 years ago. Now 3% is required in response to the full-scale war launched by Russia right beyond NATO’s eastern border,” he said.

More Ammunition

Earlier Tuesday, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said his country had joined a Czech-led initiative to buy hundreds of thousands of artillery rounds for Ukraine with a “substantial” financial contribution.

“Yes, we are in,” Sikorski told a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington. He declined to say how much his government will contribute.

Poland’s move would align it with countries including Germany, France and Canada in the plan that entails the Czech Republic serving as the middleman to link governments willing to finance the purchase of ammunition from outside the European Union.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said last week his government has received enough money from Ukraine’s allies to buy 300,000 shells and plans to deliver “much more.”

Kyiv is estimated to need at least 200,000 rounds a month to keep up the fight against Russia’s invading forces, whose average daily shell use can be anywhere from three to five times what Ukrainian forces can fire. The Czech plan aims to deliver about 800,000 shells.

European allies are struggling to meet commitments to supply Kyiv with military equipment at a delicate moment in the war as concerns grow that Russian troops may break through their defenses by summer.

Poland is telling American allies that “on this case, Europe is not a free rider,” Sikorski said, adding that Europe has spent twice as much as the US.

Aid for Poland

The US on Tuesday also announced that it had approved a potential sale of missiles and associated equipment with a value of as much as $3.7 billion, with RTX Corporation and Lockheed Martin Corp. the principal contractors.

The US State Department has approved the maximum quantities and costs for the potential sales, which must be approved by Congress. The Polish government must still negotiate with the defense contractors that produce the equipment, and the final quantities and costs could change.

The Polish leaders got less of what they wanted in terms of the US sending more troops to their country.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters in a briefing Tuesday that Biden believes the US is “postured well,” both “in terms of boots on the ground and in terms of the plans that we have in place to defend Poland, should it come to that.”

Biden said on Monday there was no need for additional US troops to bolster Poland’s border ahead of a request from that country’s head of state for more personnel and military equipment to ease worries over Russian aggression on NATO’s eastern flank.

Sikorski said he is “pleased” with the number of US troops currently stationed in his country, which add up to around 10,000.

--With assistance from Courtney McBride, Michelle Jamrisko and Jennifer Jacobs.

(Updates with details on aid for Poland starting in 16th paragraph)

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