Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Poland and Romania on Wednesday as the United States and its NATO allies seek to boost Ukrainian fighters while avoiding getting caught up in a wider war with Russia.
But diplomatic turbulence made headlines Tuesday after the Polish government said it would give all of its MiG-29 fighter jets to the U.S., apparently agreeing to an arrangement that would allow them to be used by Ukraine’s military. In turn, the U.S. would supply Poland with U.S.-made jets with “corresponding capabilities.”
But Polish officials didn’t run that idea past the Biden administration before going public with it, as the Pentagon quickly dismissed the idea as not “a tenable one.”
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement that the prospect of jets departing from a U.S./NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace contested with Russia in the Ukraine war is concerning. He said it’s not clear to the U.S. that there is a substantive rationale for it.
The Pentagon said the U.S. will continue to talk to Poland about the matter.
President Joe Biden has applauded Poland and other eastern European countries for stepping up in the midst of what’s become an enormous humanitarian crisis that is only growing. Some 2 million people have fled Ukraine and more than half of the refugees have arrived in Poland.
►Congressional leaders reached a bipartisan deal early Wednesday by providing $13.6 billion to help Ukraine and European allies as Russia’s assault has devastated Ukrainian cities and prompted Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.
►Most Asian stock markets rebounded Wednesday following Wall Street’s decline and President Joe Biden’s ban on imports of Russian crude.
► The White House announced late Tuesday that the Venezuelan government freed two jailed Americans, including an oil executive imprisoned alongside colleagues for more than four years, as it seeks to improve relations with the Biden administration amid Russia’s war with Ukraine.
►Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said more than 50 children have been killed in the war: “The scariest figure was the 50 Ukrainian children killed in 13 days of war. But then in an hour it became 52 children. I will never forgive this. And I know that you will never forgive the occupiers.”
►McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and General Electric all announced Tuesday they were suspending their business in Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
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The nation’s main federal cybersecurity agency told USA TODAY on Tuesday it has been encouraging U.S. organizations to up their security.
“While there are not any specific, credible, cyber threats to the U.S., we encourage all organizations – regardless of size – to take steps now to improve their cybersecurity and safeguard their critical assets,” the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency said in a statement.
The Biden administration sought $10 billion last week in emergency funding from Congress in defense aid, including to support Ukraine’s cyber defenses, as well as $28 million to bolster the FBI’s “investigative and operational response to cyber threats stemming from the Russia threat and war on Ukraine,” according to the supplemental funding request.
— Tami Abdollah
President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday a ban on the U.S. import of all Russian energy products to target “the main artery of Russia’s economy” in the latest effort to ratchet up sanctions over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Russian oil will no longer be accepted at U.S. ports,” the president said Tuesday at the White House. “We will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war.”
Though Biden said the move would deal a “powerful blow to Putin’s war machine,” he warned the decision would be felt at home, where Americans see prices rising at the gas pump.
The president said he made the decision in consultation with European allies but they may not be in a position to join the ban.
— Courtney Subramanian, Maureen Groppe and Bart Jansen
Contributing: The Associated Press