President Biden rallies his troops in crucial show of solidarity with NATO's Eastern border

ITV News Correspondent Peter Smith reports on the 2.5 million refugees who are now in Poland - 20% of the population in Warsaw is now a Ukrainian refugee


By ITV News Producer Cat Reid

Stepping out into eastern Poland, the President of the United States was well within missile range of Putin’s army - missiles that have been creeping closer and closer to this NATO territory.

President Joe Biden has arrived in a Poland that is on edge, and increasingly under strain. This one nation has taken in more Ukrainian refugees than the rest of the world combined.

He has already pledged a bumper humanitarian package, and today said he was "disappointed" he couldn't cross the border into Ukraine.

Speaking at a humanitarian briefing with the Polish President Andrzej Duda, he said: "I'm here in Poland to see first hand the humanitarian crisis, and quite frankly part of my disappointment is I can't see it first hand like I have in other places."

He added that "the most important thing" is to keep democracies united, but rejected Poland's calls to send MiG fighter jets to NATO's Eastern border.

Patriot missles are seen at the Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport, in Jasionka, Poland, as President Joe Biden arrives to board Air Force One. Credit: AP

President Biden has already promised to take in 100,000 refugees and pledged a billion dollar package to help deal with the humanitarian emergency.

But in the country that's bearing the biggest burden, they say they need more.

Now 2.5 million Ukrainians have fled to Poland - in its capital Warsaw, nearly 20% of the population are refugees.

Speaking at the opening of a new reception centre for refugees today, the Mayor of Warsaw, Rafal Trzaskowski, told ITV News: "We are helping as much as we can, but of course our services are also stretched.

"That's why we need a European and international system which is going to coordinate help, and then we will persevere. We need more [help]."

President Joe Biden and Polish President Andrzej Duda participate in a roundtable on the humanitarian response. Credit: AP

Air Force One touched down in Rzeszow, just 60 miles from Ukraine, on Friday afternoon and President Biden spent time with some of the 10,000 US troops already stationed here.

After eating pizza with them, President Biden said in an address: "You are the organising principle around which the free world is moving. You're in the midst of a fight between democracies and oligarchs."

But a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Poland wants the number of troops trebled.

Łukasz Jasina said: "We need far more American soldiers here. Everybody who is a neighbour of Russia can be vulnerable, and that's why we need help from President Biden and our allies from the West."

More than 2.1 million Ukrainian refugees are currently in Poland. Credit: PA Images

Having rallied his troops, President Biden is now in Warsaw for more crucial talks with Poland’s President.

This two-day visit is a bold statement of intent: America stands with those who stand up to Russia.

But those who live under the shadow of Putin’s aggression await to see how the US President’s words turn into action.