US president will visit country that has seen 2 million refugees flee crisis on its eastern border
Joe Biden is due to see firsthand the scale of the Ukrainian refugee crisis on Friday when he visits Poland, which has taken in more than 2 million people fleeing Russian forces across the border.
His trip comes hours after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy told leaders at the European Council they had been “a little late” in imposing sanctions on Russia, suggesting the crisis could have been preventable.
Russian forces are believed to have taken heavy casualties and are low on supplies, according to western and Ukrainian officials. Russia is suffering failure rates as high as 60% for some of its precision-guided missiles, US officials told Reuters.
Joe Biden raised the stakes with Russia over its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by warning that Nato would be forced to respond if the Kremlin resorted to using chemical weapons. Speaking after emergency Nato and G7 summits in Brussels, the US president said: “The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.”
In video remarks released late on Thursday, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Russian forces had tortured Ukrainian prisoners. “We will find every Russian soldier who commits war crimes, along with their accomplices … do not think that your surnames are unknown to us. No one will be able to escape punishment,” Vereshchuk said. The allegations of torture could not be independently verified.
Vereshchuk confirmed that people captured by Russian forces in Mangush while travelling in a humanitarian convoy had been freed. In a separate message post online, she said the first “full-fledged exchange of prisoners of war took place” where 10 “captured occupiers” were exchanged for 10 Ukrainian servicemen.