Biden pledges to strengthen US military presence in Europe – News

US president arrives in Spain for NATO summit, accuses Putin of trying to ‘annihilate’ Ukrainian culture



US President Joe Biden and Spain’s King Felipe VI meet at the Royal Palace in Madrid. —PA

By PA

Published: Tue, Jun 28, 2022 9:27 PM

US President Joe Biden opened his three-day visit to a NATO summit on Tuesday by pledging to bolster the US military presence in Europe as he denounced Russia’s Vladimir Putin for trying to ‘annihilate’ the Ukrainian culture in the ongoing war in Eastern Europe.

Biden, in talks with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, detailed plans to increase the number of Navy destroyers based in Rota, Spain, from four to six. Biden said the move was one of multiple announcements he and his NATO allies would make to help strengthen the alliance in the region at the summit.

Biden arrived in Spain for the NATO summit amid an intense barrage of Russian fire across Ukraine – including a gruesome missile attack on a shopping mall in Kyiv on Monday – and growing fatigue with the fierce war hitting the global economy.

“Sometimes I think Putin’s goal is just to literally change the whole culture — to annihilate the culture of Ukraine (with) the kind of actions he takes,” Biden said after meeting with Sanchez.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Rota’s decision “will help increase the maritime presence of the United States and NATO.” He said Biden would announce additional moves on Wednesday.

Biden is seeking to use this week’s NATO summit to bolster his allies amid signs of rifts in the Western alliance. After racking up an avalanche of sanctions against the Russian economy and funneling billions of dollars worth of weaponry to Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, NATO partners are showing signs of tension as the cost of energy and other essentials skyrocketed.

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As the US president left for the NATO meeting from the German Alps, where he met the leaders of the Group of Seven for the first time this week, French President Emmanuel Macron said the prices put European economies in an “untenable” situation. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who addressed the G-7 on Monday, openly expressed concern that the West was fatigued by the cost of war.

To be sure, the United States had already reinforced its presence shortly before the war in Ukraine, adding about 20,000 troops to the 80,000 that had previously been in Europe. And the United States has signaled that the Russian-Ukrainian war will impact its defense posture and that of its NATO allies for years to come.

The United States and Spain, in a joint statement following the Biden-Sanchez meeting, said the war “has fundamentally altered the global strategic environment” and that “aggression poses the most direct threat for transatlantic security and global stability since the end of the cold war”. .”

Sullivan suggested that other measures Biden is about to announce will involve positioning “additional forces on the eastern flank” of NATO “in stable condition.” He declined to say whether some US forces that serve on NATO’s eastern flank on a rotational basis would become permanent.

Biden said, “The new commitments will be an impressive display of allied unity and resolve.”

The US president praised Spain for taking in tens of thousands of Ukrainian migrants who fled the war. “Our people have united,” Biden said during a meeting with Spain’s King Felipe VI. “They got up and they stayed strong.”

Biden is due to meet Turkish President Erdogan on Wednesday as he remains the main opponent of Finland and Sweden joining NATO. Both countries took a historic step by applying for NATO membership in the aftermath of the Russian invasion.

Sullivan said the United States had no role to play in the negotiations between Turkey and the Nordic countries, which are brokered by NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg.

He said that at the summit, the United States would be an advocate for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance and evaded the question of whether the United States could induce Turkey to support the alliance. country membership.

Biden will also seek to highlight the progress made by NATO members in meeting the alliance’s goal of spending 2% of gross domestic product on their defense budgets.

Sullivan said a majority of members would say they have met the goal or are on track by 2024. He described it as “a substantial shift in intensity and commitment NATO allies in terms of putting their money where they say”. Biden’s predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, sharply criticized NATO partners for failing to hit the mark.

The president will also hold a rare joint meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program.

US and South Korean officials say North Korea has nearly completed preparations for its first nuclear test since September 2017, when it claimed to have detonated a thermonuclear warhead designed for intercontinental ballistic missiles.

North Korea could use its upcoming nuclear test to claim that it has acquired the ability to build small nuclear warheads that can be placed on short-range missiles or other new weapons systems that it has demonstrated in recent years. months, analysts said.