US President Biden arrives in Brussels for NATO and EU summits
U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to Brussels next week Thursday for a special NATO summit. The White House said Tuesday in Washington that Biden wants to assure the Europeans of the United States' "unwavering support" in the Ukraine war. In the Belgian capital, the U.S. president also plans to attend an EU summit that has already been scheduled.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Biden's Brussels trip for March 24. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had called a special summit of the 30 alliance countries for that day shortly before.
On the same day, Biden plans to meet with EU leaders, who will convene for a regular summit on March 24 and 25. According to Psakis, the issues at stake will be the economic price of the Ukraine war for Moscow as well as humanitarian aid for Ukraine. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel welcomed the meeting with Biden. "Transatlantic unity and coordination remain central to increasing pressure on the Kremlin and ending this unjustified war," von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.
For U.S. President Joe Biden, the extraordinary NATO summit will be the first foreign trip after his participation in the G20 summit in Rome and the subsequent climate summit in Glasgow last fall. Since taking office last January, Biden has traveled abroad only twice so far.
In June of last year, Biden attended the G7 summit in Cornwall and top-level meetings of NATO and the EU in Brussels. On that occasion, the U.S. president had rehearsed closing ranks with allies against Beijing and Moscow. "Russia and China are both trying to drive a wedge into our transatlantic solidarity," he had stressed in Brussels. He had then met with Putin in Geneva for a summit.
According to Stoltenberg, the NATO summit is about "further strengthening NATO's deterrence and defense" in the Ukraine war. "At this critical time, North America and Europe must stand together," the Norwegian stressed on Twitter. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov is to join in via video. German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) is expected to attend the consultations in the Belgian capital.
It is unlikely that far-reaching decisions will be made at the summit next week. However, one of the issues likely to be discussed is whether NATO will respond to Russia's advance toward the West with a substantial and long-term reinforcement of its eastern flank.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also ruled out military intervention by NATO despite the continuing Russian advance in Ukraine, the increasing number of casualties and the destruction. The West continues to rely on the sanctions imposed on Russia, the chancellor said at the "World" Economic Summit 2022 at Axel Springer House. "We will not establish no-fly zones over Ukraine. That would mean a direct military confrontation with Russia, with Russian fighter jets," the chancellor said. "I agree with U.S. President Joe Biden, with France's President Emmanuel Macron and the other allies that there must be no warlike confrontation between NATO and Russia. Nobody can want that."
So far, however, NATO member states have been bilaterally supplying anti-tank weapons, air defense missiles and other military equipment to the partner country. In addition, there are deliveries of ammunition and millions of euros in financial and humanitarian aid. Among them, he said, were medical supplies for Ukrainian forces. Diplomats stressed that military assistance was not provided through NATO as an organization, but on the basis of decisions made by national governments.