Kamala Harris visits Romania in her latest campaign to reassure US allies on Russia

President Joe Biden has already sent 1,000 troops to Romania and pledged to support the country as it welcomes a major influx of migrants fleeing war next door. But a visit by its number two aims to demonstrate American commitment at a deeply uncertain time for the region.

Unlike Ukraine, Romania is a member of NATO and an attack on the country by Russia would trigger the alliance’s collective defense treaty, which states that an attack on one is an attack on all.

But even NATO protection, a system of alliance bases and a missile defense system can’t entirely calm the nerves in this former Soviet satellite state that has been repeatedly invaded by Russia throughout its history. .

Harris will meet with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Friday afternoon before calling a press conference and returning late to Washington.

His trip was a test both for his diplomatic abilities and for the resolve of wider Western allies to forcefully confront Russian President Vladimir Putin for launching the largest ground invasion in Europe since World War II.

Harris arrives in Bucharest from Poland, where she has bolstered US engagement with another NATO ally that is watching Putin’s next move cautiously.

“The United States stands ready to defend every square inch of NATO territory. The United States takes seriously that an attack on one is an attack on all,” Harris said after meeting with President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw.

She announced that the United States had delivered Patriot missiles to Poland and promised to support the country as it grapples with its own wave of migrants, which has strained public resources, despite an overwhelming welcome from the Polish people.

Yet his visit also underscored the limits of American or NATO willingness to protect civilians in Ukraine. A plan that had been considered to supply Ukraine with Polish fighter jets was deemed impossible by the Pentagon before its arrival, and it gave little indication that it could be revived in the future.

Instead, Harris pointed to the military support the United States is already providing to Ukraine running out of air power, including anti-tank missiles, which the country’s president, Volodomyr Zelensky, has deemed insufficient.

“We make deliveries every day based on what we can do,” Harris said. When asked what more Ukraine could expect, she replied: “It’s an ongoing process and it’s not going to stop as long as there is a need.”

Harris also amplified the atrocities she says are underway in Ukraine, though she refrained from calling them war crimes. She called on the United Nations to investigate.

But she stuck to the red line Biden has set, which is that the US military will not be directly involved in the war.

An official traveling with the vice president said his visit was meant to be more than just tokenism, designed to show the US was putting its ‘money where its mouth is’ by sending additional troops to areas eastern parts of NATO.

But the official also acknowledged that Harris’ reassurance diplomacy gained prominence because Biden intended to avoid direct conflict with Russia.

“The president was pretty clear about not engaging in a direct military conflict with Russia, about not sending troops to Ukraine, but he’s also been pretty clear… about our determination to pay the price. to Russia and to continue to provide assistance to Ukraine,” the official said. “And that’s why the vice president is here to make sure we can do that effectively. And I think she’s been very effective in doing that.”

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to more accurately describe the political relationship between Romania and the Soviet Union.


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