Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the United States House of Representatives, has met Poland’s President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw, two days after becoming the highest-ranking US official to visit Ukraine.
In a statement following the meeting in the Polish capital on Monday, Pelosi called Duda “a valued partner in supporting the people of Ukraine in the face of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s brutal and unprovoked war”.
Pelosi added that she and about a dozen US legislators who met Duda “expressed America’s deep gratitude to the Polish government and Polish people for opening their hearts and homes to Ukrainian refugees, and we reaffirmed our nation’s pledge to continue supporting Poland’s humanitarian efforts”.
Poland has been one of Russia’s most vocal opponents over its invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.
The war has sparked a refugee crisis that has seen more than 5.5 million people, mostly women and children, flee Ukraine. The largest group by far – more than 3 million people – have arrived in Poland, where many of them have remained.
Polish people have taken Ukrainians into their homes, while the government and volunteers have mobilised to help in countless ways.
Meanwhile, Russia last week halted gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after the two European Union and NATO members rejected its demand for payment in roubles, a move that Duda said violated “basic legal principles”.
‘Fight for freedom’
Monday’s meeting in Warsaw came two days after Pelosi led a group of US legislators on an unannounced trip to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, where they met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and pledged Washington’s unwavering support against Russia’s invasion.
“Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done,” Pelosi told Zelenskyy, according to a video of the meeting released by the Ukrainian president’s office.
“We are on a frontier of freedom and your fight is a fight for everyone. Thank you for your fight for freedom.”
The visit followed a previous trip to Ukraine by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. As speaker of the House, Pelosi is second in line for the US presidency after Vice President Kamala Harris.
Meanwhile, the US Congress is expected to take up a request from President Joe Biden to allocate $33bn in additional aid for Ukraine.
The sum, which represents a dramatic escalation in US support, includes more than $20bn for weapons, ammunition and other military assistance, as well as $8.5bn in direct economic assistance to the Ukrainian government and $3bn in humanitarian aid.