US-Polish partnership strong and effective says Blinken

"Thanks to Poland's leadership, we are standing strong in support of Ukraine faced with the Russian aggression – supporting it in terms of security assistance, economic assistance, humanitarian assistance," Blinken said. Shawn Thew/PAP/EPA

Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, has praised the US-Polish partnership, saying it has never been more important and effective.

Blinken met Zbigniew Rau, his Polish counterpart, in Washington on Friday for discussions that will include Russia's invasion of Ukraine and further support for Kyiv.

Poland and the US have been two of the most enthusiastic supporters of Ukraine since Russia went to war with its neighbour in February.

"I can't think of a time when the United States and Poland and our partnership has been more important and more effective," said Blinken ahead of the talks.

"Thanks to Poland's leadership, we are standing strong in support of Ukraine faced with the Russian aggression – supporting it in terms of security assistance, economic assistance, humanitarian assistance."

Rau said that when he met Bliken last time they did not expect that Russia would invade Ukraine.

"And yet when this tragic event happened, as allies and Nato members, we reacted with firmness, resilience and determination to defend our partner," he said.

Later, after talking to Blinken, the Polish foreign minister said they both agreed that air defence over Ukraine is now a priority.

"Blinken expressed concerns about the next wave of refugees from Ukraine and in this context we discussed the issue of 'safe skies' over Ukraine," he said.

Rau reiterated that the Polish position assumes that talks with Russian Presient Vladimir Putin can only take place after Russian troops have been driven out of Ukraine.

"We promote this position among Nato allies, we have a lot of support from most countries on the eastern flank, and none of my interlocutors in the US indicated any alternative to such a position," the Polish minister said.

Rau also reported that the talks with Blinken concerned the "current and future" presence of US troops on Nato's eastern flank and that an increase in the number of US forces in Poland cannot be ruled out.