Biden meets NATO leaders in Brussels for emergency talks aimed at ending Russia’s war in Ukraine

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Biden’s busy schedule on Thursday includes meetings with NATO, major Group of Seven economies and the European Council, where he is expected to outline a new set of measures against Russia, including new sanctions. Existing sanctions should also be strengthened.

After a “family photo” on Thursday morning – a diplomatic delicacy in which NATO leaders gathered for an official photo – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg opened the extraordinary summit of the NATO by condemning Russia’s “unprovoked aggression” against Ukraine and reaffirming NATO’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.

“We are determined to continue to impose costs on Russia to end this brutal war,” Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg said the allies would discuss efforts to continue supporting Ukraine and strengthen NATO defenses. “We pay tribute to the great courage of the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian Armed Forces who are fighting for their freedom and their rights,” he said. “We also recognize those in Russia who courageously stand up against the war. We hear their voices. They are counting.

Stoltenberg warned a day earlier that NATO would view any use of chemical weapons by Russia as an escalation, but he was vague on the specific repercussions of such a move. “Any use of chemical weapons would totally change the nature of the conflict and have far-reaching consequences,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky then addressed NATO leaders via video conference, where he reiterated his request for continued Western security assistance, according to a senior US administration official who requested the anonymity to share private meeting details. Notably, Zelensky did not advocate for a no-fly zone, which he repeatedly urged Western allies to implement, or an application for NATO membership.

Biden then delivered remarks, outlining the United States’ three-pronged approach to dealing with the crisis. He spoke of the economic costs the United States has imposed on Russia through sanctions, the country’s support for Ukraine through military and humanitarian assistance, and the United States’ commitment to the NATO and in particular the eastern flank of the alliance.

“There was a very strong feeling that we are facing an important historical moment and very strong support from all the leaders who spoke about the need to defend our democracy, the need to defend our common values ​​and a strong sense that NATO was well prepared to be able to do this,” the senior administration official said.

The manager added: “The general mood has been sober. It was resolved and it was incredibly united.

Arriving at NATO’s glass and steel headquarters on Thursday, European leaders described a continent – and an alliance – transformed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

For years, the Baltics and some Eastern European countries have warned against Russia, while major Western European economies have sought cooperation with Putin’s regime. Those who have long called for a more assertive approach now say Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine proves the need for it.

“No one can feel safe now,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Thursday. “Even countries far from Russia cannot feel safe.”

But there is always a debate about how to prevent the conflict from escalating further, and more particularly about how to communicate what would constitute red lines for NATO and the consequences for Russia if they were crossed – though the alliance has so far remained unified in its response..

NATO has so far focused on what it won’t do, such as setting up a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine. But it is less precise what Russian actions could trigger an escalation of NATO’s response.

Some countries have expressed frustration with statements by the Biden administration about steps it will not take to defend Ukraine, fearing that such public statements will simply serve to embolden Putin. Biden and his team, for example, have repeatedly said they want to avoid anything that might escalate the situation with Russia because they don’t want “World War III.”

Ahead of Thursday’s summit, NATO heads of state and government largely stuck to that approach, saying little about red lines.

Asked about the issue, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Putin “has already crossed the red line into barbarism”. It is now up to NATO, he said, to consider “what more we can do to help the Ukrainian people protect themselves”.

Since Putin launched its full-scale assault in February, the 30-member NATO alliance has bolstered its eastern flank, with some 40,000 troops now under direct NATO command, mostly in the eastern part of the covenant.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Stoltenberg said NATO leaders would likely decide to do more. “I expect leaders to agree to strengthen NATO’s posture in all areas,” Stoltenberg said, “with significant increases in our forces in the eastern part of the alliance.”

The first step is the deployment of four new NATO battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. NATO leaders will also look to the future, given what Russia’s assault on Ukraine means for the alliance in the years to come.

“There is a need to reset our deterrence and defense,” Stoltenberg said, “and I expect that to be a substantial increase in our long-term presence.”

US officials have warned that Russia may be considering using chemical or biological weapons, potentially in a false flag attack. On Wednesday, Stoltenberg said the alliance planned to send equipment to help Ukraine deal with such threats, but he declined to provide details.

In a call last week, Biden warned Chinese leader Xi Jinping against helping Russia. NATO allies will discuss on Thursday what will happen if Beijing offers more support to Moscow.

“China has provided Russia with political support, including spreading blatant lies and disinformation,” Stoltenberg said. “The allies fear that China will provide material support for the Russian invasion.”

Later Thursday, Biden will join European Union leaders for a European Council meeting, where the group will discuss military assistance to Ukraine, next steps on sanctions and how to reduce dependence on the country. to Russian energy.

The United States has banned imports of oil, natural gas and coal from Russia. The EU, which is much more dependent on Russian energy, has pledged to cut gas imports by two-thirds by the end of the year, but the bloc faces pressure to do more. However, calls for an outright ban on Russian energy, or simply Russian oil, have so far divided the 27 EU members.

As Biden lined up for a NATO ‘family photo’ before the official start of meetings in Brussels, the US president shook hands and spoke briefly with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron and Estonian Prime Minister. Minister Kaja Kallas.

Then, as the leaders dispersed, Biden, Johnson and Emmanuel huddled off stage before stepping out together to attend the official summit.

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