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U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during the IBEW Local 553 Apprentice Training Program at Durham Technical College March 2, in Durham, North Carolina. (Allison Joyce/AFP/Getty Images)

US Vice President Kamala Harris will discuss the thorny issue of delivering Soviet-era planes to Ukraine during her visit to Poland this week, senior administration officials said ahead of her departure.

Harris’ visit was complicated when Poland issued a surprise statement saying it would hand over its MiG fighter jets to the United States instead of giving them directly to Ukraine, an idea that was flatly rejected by Washington.

“There are a lot of ideas on the table. As you saw in the Pentagon statement, we believe this one is not tenable, but we certainly want and encourage all allies to come forward with ideas. And for us to stay in very close coordination at all levels,” a senior administration official said.

The official said Harris would engage Poland’s leaders – including the president and prime minister – on the issue when she meets with them in Warsaw on Thursday.

“We have been in dialogue with the Poles for some time on how best to provide a variety of security assistance to Ukraine. And it is a dialogue that will absolutely continue until and within the framework of the trip. of the vice president,” the official said.

“This is a key priority for us and for all of our NATO allies. So we expect us to keep talking about how to achieve this really important goal. A number of people have had a variety of ideas and we think they are all worth discussing and that is what we will continue to do.

A pair of MIG-29s belonging to the Polish Air Force at the 22nd Command at Malbork Air Base, Poland, Aug. 27.
A pair of MIG-29s belonging to the Polish Air Force at the 22nd Command at Malbork Air Base, Poland, Aug. 27. (Cuneyt Karadag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Harris is traveling to Poland and Romania at a critical time for Europe and for the Biden administration.

“The past two months have all been very focused on what has tragically become a defining issue for the entire administration,” said a second senior administration official.

Harris, for her part, has “really been immersed in this,” the first official said, “working intensely on a daily basis on all issues related to the ongoing crisis resulting from the Russian invasion.”

Also on the program: In Warsaw, Harris will also meet with refugees who have fled violence in Ukraine, as well as US diplomats who have moved to Poland from the US Embassy in Kyiv, which has been closed.

She will also meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is visiting at the same time, and address U.S. and Polish troops on Friday.

The United States has moved nearly 5,000 additional troops to Poland in a show of comfort in the face of Russian aggression.

From Poland, Harris travels to Romania, where she will meet with the country’s president and the staff of the United States Embassy.

Officials said Harris arrived in Europe with a three-part message: that the United States stands with its NATO allies, that it will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine, and that Putin made a mistake that would result in a ” resounding defeat” for Russia. .