Kamala Harris is in Europe on a two-country NATO tour to reassure Poland and Romania that the United States has their back. On Friday, she met with Romanian President Iohannis.
Harris visited Poland first. She held meetings with both the foreign minister and the president. Unfortunately, during her joint press conference with President Andrzej Duda, Kamala’s wildly inappropriate cackle-style laugh made an untimely appearance. When asked about the plight of millions of Ukrainian refugees, she cackled as she said, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” She also made headlines by declaring that there must be an investigation into Putin’s war crimes during his invasion in Ukraine.
Kamala left Poland Friday and traveled to another NATO country that borders Ukraine, Romania. She assured Romanians that America’s commitment to NATO countries is “ironclad” during a press conference with President Klaus Iohannis.
“America’s commitment to Article 5 is ironclad. We take very seriously our role and the relationships that we have within the NATO Alliance. We take seriously and are prepared to act on the words we speak when we say an attack against one is an attack against all,” she said at a press conference with president Klaus Iohannis.
She mentioned the 1,000-member Stryker squadron recently deployed to Romania, as well as the United States Congress’ USD 13.6 billion package for Ukraine.
Both Harris and Iohannis brushed aside a reporter’s concern of Putin’s war in Ukraine spreading to Romania and the Republic of Moldova. Kamala pointed to NATO’s Article 5 which is the principle that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members. This has been the cornerstone of the alliance since it was founded in 1949. Article 5 guarantees that the resources of NATO can be used to protect any single member nation.
“I cannot repeat frequently enough that the United States is committed to our friendship and alliance with Romania. And to that end, we have a continuous and rotating commitment of U.S. troops to this country, most recently with the deployment of the 1,000-member Stryker squadron. And as the people of Romania know, we also know that this is a dynamic situation, and we will, on a daily basis, assess the needs that we have to maintain stability in this region. As it relates to what might be the future conduct of Putin, I cannot speculate. But we are clear in our position, which is that as a member of NATO, an attack against one is an attack against all,” she said.
In his turn, President Iohannis said there is no information indicating Romania would be a target for an aggression. “We do not have information that would indicate that Romania would represent a target of an aggression. On the other hand, it is very clear that this Russian action, this war started against Ukraine, definitely created, definitely produced a result – a visible, a firm, a clear result. And it’s represented by the unity of NATO and the determination of NATO Allies to stand together and to defend themselves- each other.”
It’s a legitimate concern that Ukraine’s neighbors have. Putin has repeatedly stated that his intention is to leave a legacy of reuniting the former Soviet Union. He moved on Ukraine first. Putin has shown aggression toward Ukraine for many years, his last bold move being in 2014 when Russia invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. That was during the Obama-Biden years. Putin essentially got away with that invasion with little negative consequences so he continued to feel emboldened. This time he wants the whole country of Ukraine. As NATO partner countries take in Ukrainian refugees, concern has been voiced that the Moscow madman may be triggered enough by the humanitarian gestures that he would launch attacks on them to retaliate. Poland was the first country to offer refuge to Ukrainians fleeing the country after Putin’s invasion and Romania is also accepting Ukrainian refugees.
She opened her remarks by saying she wanted to speak directly to the Romanian people. She thanked them for welcoming displaced Ukrainians. The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine will continue to rise. She thanked the Romanians for being “extraordinary in the generosity and the courage you have shown in this moment.”
Kamala said that Putin shows “no signs of engaging in serious diplomacy” and that Americans should be prepared to endure higher gas prices, as should allies, because of economic sanctions put on Putin. Russia is a major global oil supplier, with European countries being heavily dependent on Russia for energy.
“There is a price to pay for democracy. Gotta stand with your friends,” Harris said, adding that “sometimes it’s difficult, often it ain’t easy.”
While the percentage of Russian oil purchased by the United States is small compared to national consumption, the price of gas at the pump has escalated since Putin’s invasion into Ukraine. Biden is trying to pin it all on Putin but the truth is that gas and fuel prices have been rising for months, noticeably since Biden took office. The price increases aren’t new, but they are greater now.
Russia uses its vast natural supplies of crude oil as a major export market and one which has grown in recent years. In spring 2021 imports of Russian oil to the United States in their highest level in a decade, become the second-largest exporter of oil to the US later that year.
Across 2021 the US imported between 12 million as 26 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum from Russia every month. In November 2021, the most recent figures on record, the Energy Information Agency reports that the US took 17.8 million barrels.
Republicans and Democrats, while supporting sanctions on oil imports from Russia, have been speaking out about the pain at the pump felt by American drivers. Americans don’t want to finance Putin’s war with oil purchases. Higher prices at the gas pump and for heating oil are taking a bite out of paychecks, along with higher prices on everything across the board, thanks to Bidenflation.