Ambassador Mark Brzezinski’s Interview with CBS

11 March 2022

Ann Marie Green, CBS: Romania right now meeting with officials about the ongoing war in Ukraine. Earlier this morning, she met with troops in Poland before continuing her overseas trip. So here to discuss is U.S. Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski. Thank you so much for joining us, Ambassador. First, I want to ask you about the refugees pouring over the border into Poland. We learned yesterday that it was one and a half million. I mean, in 24 hours. I’m sure it’s more than that, because we’ve had some, at least some ceasefires it held for a little bit. When you see how Poland is handling the influx, what’s your assessment? How are things going?  

Ambassador Mark Brzezinski: Incredibly important question Ann Marie, because the Polish response to this humanitarian catastrophe has been something to bear witness to. I’ve been to the border several times in the last week, and you’re right 1.5 million has been increased because there are 150,000 refugees coming across the Polish-Ukrainian border every single day. And what you see in Poland, are Poles getting into their cars, and going to the border towns like Medyka, Korczowa, Rzeszow, Przemysł, to pick up Ukrainian families coming in, and to drive them to apartments, to homes where doors are open. And welcome to them. And just think about that 1.5 million plus refugees, in a matter of 10 days, it has been an incredible narrative of Polish heart, in terms of them opening their doors and welcoming these people. And it’s costing the Poles millions of euros every single day to pay for this. And so to have had Vice President Kamala Harris come here, to bear witness to what is happening in terms of this massive humanitarian flow coming into Poland, the way the Poles are reacting, and to say that the Americans share in and join in, in this challenge. And she announced $53 million being deployed through our USAID, through our development agency, to help in this challenge. It was an important symbol that the Americans and Poles stand shoulder-to-shoulder in this crisis.  

Ann Marie Green, CBS: I want to ask you a little bit more about that. Because Poland’s president did ask for a couple of specific things, he did ask for financial support in dealing with the refugee crisis. He also asked that, you know, perhaps the U.S. make it a little easier for Ukrainians who have American relatives to come to the U.S. to sort of loosen the garden. So I want to ask you, did the Polish President get what he asked for? When Kamala Harris sort of answered that question yesterday? It was a little vague, I understand that there’s a significant financial commitment to the humanitarian effort. How much of that is going specifically to Poland? And what about this idea of loosening some of the restrictions of some of these Ukrainians to come here and be we reunited with their American family members?  

Ambassador Mark Brzezinski: What was clear in terms of our announcement yesterday is that $53 billion in humanitarian assistance through USA, ID will be deployed immediately into Poland. And it’s important, and we need to remember that many of the Ukrainians fleeing into Poland want to stay close to Ukraine, in the hope that they can go back soon. They believe that the Ukrainians can win against this Russian invasion, and they want to return to their homes soon to rebuild, to reconstruct their lives. And I think that is a beautiful hope that the Poles are standing with the Ukrainians in solidarity. The Ukrainians also are coming into Poland, because the Polish language and Ukrainian language are similar. Many in western Ukraine do business in Poland. There’s situational awareness of folks coming into Poland, of how life is in Poland and so forth. That is why in the first instance, Poland is a destination. But you ask an important question in terms of Ukrainian refugees being able to move beyond and I think President Duda of Poland was satisfied in the response by Vice President Kamala Harris, that she will take that question back to the United States for consideration immediately in terms of Ukrainians moving beyond Poland further west.  

Ann Marie Green, CBS: And let me ask you about another type of support. Vice President Harris also announced yesterday, the delivery of two new Patriot missile systems to Poland, can you tell us a little bit more about that and how it would be helpful.  

Ambassador Mark Brzezinski: Yes, she announced that with regard to the deployment of those Patriot systems in Rzeszow’s airport, in the southeastern part of Poland. And I think that the air defense systems and the need for them speak for themselves. We see what is happening in Ukraine. And we want to be prepared here in Poland, a frontline state of NATO regarding any particular contingency, and I think, more specifically Ann Marie, Vice President Kamala Harris said, America and NATO are prepared to defend every square inch of NATO territory. And that was an important part of her reassurance message to the Polish people during her visit here. And she also kind of, you know, not just in word, but indeed he said that, you know, in the last one and a half weeks $240 million has been delivered in terms of security assistance, anti-armor, air defense weapons and so forth to support what is the reaction to this invasion from the east of Ukraine.