US President Joe Biden begins his final day at the Group of 20 Summit dealing with another crisis surrounding Russia’s war in Ukraine – this time involving a NATO ally.
The president is holding an emergency roundtable with world leaders in Bali on Wednesday morning local time, according to the White House website. The talks come after an explosion in Poland that killed two people.
Poland’s foreign ministry said late Tuesday that the “Russian-made missile” fell on the village of Przewodów. The ministry’s statement did not specify the type of missile or where it was fired from. Biden spoke earlier with Poland’s president and the NATO secretary general.
The Russian Defense Ministry has called reports of Russian missiles landing in Poland a “deliberate provocation,” denying that there were strikes made on targets near the Ukrainian-Polish state border.
Biden and leaders from the G7 and NATO are in the roundtable. The meeting includes Biden and leaders from Canada, the European Union, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Netherlands, and Japan, the officials said.
Reporters were briefly let into the room to see the leaders sitting at the table. When asked if he could give an update about the explosion, Biden said, “No.”
During a call with Polish President Andrzej Duda earlier, Biden “expressed deep condolences for the loss of life in Eastern Poland earlier this evening,” the White House said in a readout.
“President Duda described Poland’s ongoing assessment of the explosion that took place in the eastern part of the country near the border with Ukraine. President Biden offered full US support for and assistance with Poland’s investigation,” the readout continued.
Biden “reaffirmed the United States’ ironclad commitment to NATO” and the leaders agreed to have their teams “remain in close touch to determine appropriate next steps as the investigation proceeds.”
At the summit, Biden and most G20 members have been slated to sign onto a statement condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine “and the human suffering it has caused both for Ukrainians and for families in the developing world that are facing food and fuel insecurity as a result,” according to a senior administration official previewing the statement. Such an expression of condemnation has been the work of months of diplomacy between G20 leaders. However, it’s not clear yet exactly which countries will sign onto the declaration.
Biden had initially faced fears that his broad efforts in diplomacy faced the possibility of being overshadowed by his predecessor’s third run for the presidency.
Biden’s final diplomatic events Wednesday – which include planting a tree with other leaders and meeting with the new prime minister of the United Kingdom – stand in contrast to former President Donald Trump’s widely expected presidential bid announcement from his home state of Florida, an effort that could set the stage for a two-year political battle just as the current commander-in-chief is 10,000 miles away from the White House.
Before beginning a long journey back to Washington, Biden is expected to participate in a mangrove tree planting with other G20 leaders. He will also meet with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the United Kingdom for the first time since he took office last month.
Sunak ascended to the prime minister role late last month when he replaced Liz Truss, now the shortest-serving prime minister in UK history. Truss resigned six weeks into a term that plunged Britain into political and economic turmoil. Sunak is the first person of color and the first Hindu to lead the UK. He is also the youngest person to take the office in more than 200 years.
Biden returns Wednesday evening to a Washington in the midst of shifts in political power, where politicians are continuing to vie for leadership positions in the next Congress.
While CNN has not projected which party will take the US House of Representatives, Republicans have elected Kevin McCarthy to be their nominee for House Speaker. In the Senate, Republicans are set to vote for leadership on Wednesday. Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott has mounted a challenge against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The president also returns with the political winds in his favor, having defied historical odds in having Democrats retain their Senate majority and staving off a GOP sweep in the House.
Still, more political challenges are ahead in Congress that could pose headaches for Democrats and the Biden administration.
Congress will have to agree to funding provisions before December 16 to avoid a government shutdown. A debt ceiling battle is also looming – an issue that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he plans to address with McConnell “shortly.”