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Vice President Harris has traveled to Poland in support of Ukraine and its neighbors


Vice President Kamala Harris landed in Poland's capital city, Warsaw, yesterday. Russia's war on Ukraine has become the top foreign crisis for the Biden White House. And as Vice President Harris met with U.S. allies on NATO's eastern flank, she thanked the Polish people for taking in Ukrainian neighbors.


VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: We have seen through images on the television looking at images of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in support of the dignity and the well-being of perfect strangers.

SHAPIRO: NPR White House correspondent Asma Khalid is traveling with the vice president and joins us now. Good to have you here in Poland, Asma.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: It is good to be here, Ari. Thanks.

SHAPIRO: The vice president arrives at this moment of tension, where the U.S. and Poland disagree over whether to supply fighter jets to Ukraine. How did that factor into today's events?

KHALID: You know, Ari, this was an unusual public disagreement between the two allies. But today here in Warsaw, it seemed like both Vice President Harris and the president of Poland were trying to present a sense of unity. They were asked about this issue, and I will say the vice president did not really explicitly address the issue of fighter jets. She instead tried to focus on the sense of unity and consensus that has been built between the United States and its European allies.


HARRIS: I want to be very clear. The United States and Poland are united in what we have done and are prepared to do to help Ukraine and the people of Ukraine - full stop.

KHALID: The Polish president said that he was responding to a request from Ukraine but that he recognizes that he needs to be aware of NATO's security concerns, not just the concerns of Poland. I will say, Ari, it was probably one of the sharpest points of disagreement that we have seen between the United States and a European ally in what has to date been a fairly consensus response with how to deal with Russia.

SHAPIRO: Both leaders were asked about whether they support an international investigation into war crimes by Russia. There have been documented attacks on Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces. What did the vice president say about that?

KHALID: You know, she went, I think, further than we've heard most U.S. officials go in condemning what she described as atrocities. She was asked whether or not she would support an international investigation into war crimes committed by Russia. And she said that the United Nations has a process, but at the same time, she says that we see what we see. Here's how she said it.


HARRIS: Absolutely there should be an investigation, and we should all be watching.

KHALID: You know, that being said, Ari, she did not go as far as the president of Poland, who said, quote, that "it is obvious that war crimes have been committed."

SHAPIRO: From where I am near the border, it's clear that Poland is struggling to keep up with the flow of Ukrainian refugees. And at the same time, international organizations are working hard to get humanitarian aid into Ukraine to help civilians who are in the freezing cold there. What does the administration plan to do to help with either of these two efforts?

KHALID: You know, Ari, humanitarian assistance and aid was certainly a key part of the vice president's mission here in Poland. But, you know, you know this better than I do, Ari, and I actually asked the vice president this very question, you know, is the United States going to be able to offer additional assistance in building up an infrastructure for Poland to deal with the influx of refugees from Ukraine? Or is the United States willing to accept and maybe expedite the process for refugees coming to the United States? And, you know, she did say that this is an important issue, but it's really not clear that the United States has yet built up an infrastructure to quickly accept additional people coming to the United States.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Asma Khalid traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris in Poland. Good to talk to you, Asma.

KHALID: Thanks, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.