MADRID – President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday, as he arrived at the NATO summit in Spain, that the US would step up its military presence in eastern Europe.
Biden said the US would establish a permanent troop presence in Poland and maintain an additional rotational brigade of 3,000 fighters and 2,000 personnel in Romania. The troops in Poland will be the first permanent US forces on NATO’s eastern flank.
Biden said the US would also enhance its rotational deployments in the Baltic region, which is comprised of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
“At a time when Putin has shattered peace in Europe and attacked the very, very tenets of rule-based order, the United States and our allies, we’re going to step up. We’re stepping up,” Biden said.
The US is also sending two additional F-35 squadrons to the UK, stationing two more destroyers in Spain and will improve defense capabilities in Germany and Italy.
Working together, with its military allies, Biden said the US would help ensure that NATO nations are “ready to meet threats from all directions, across every domain.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced this week the organization would put 300,000 troops on high alert, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. More than 40,000 troops are currently under NATO command.
The US has deployed or extended the deployment of more than 20,000 additional forces to Europe since the start of Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said on Wednesday.
That brings the number of American service members on the continent to more than 100,000, Kirby said.
- NATO expansion: NATO leaders have formally invited Sweden and Finland to join the alliance. The invitation comes just hours after Turkey dropped its objections to the Nordic nations’ membership. Final approval could still be months away because the legislative bodies of all 30 NATO countries must vote to accept their membership.
- Where’s Biden: He is participating in a closed-door session with other heads of state and government of NATO nations.
- What to watch: Biden’s meeting with the Turkish president. The leaders spoke by phone Monday ahead of an expected face-to-face conversation at the NATO summit.
- On the menu: Visiting leaders will have dinner with President Pedro Sánchez of Spain.
What’s about to happen
NATO nations are building out their strategic concept, a document that will determine what issues the alliance focuses on over the next decade.
Wednesday is the first full day of the summit. Leaders will meet again on Thursday.
Separately, Biden will hold a joint meeting with Japan’s Fumio Kishida and South Korea’s Yoon Seok-youl at the summit site. He will also meet with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Visiting leaders will have dinner with President Pedro Sánchez of Spain.
What they are saying
- Biden said as he arrived at the NATO gathering site that it will be a “history-making summit,” where leaders will “reaffirm the unity and determination to our alliance to defend every inch of NATO territory.”
- The US president said the alliance’s Article Five commitment to protect NATO nations if they are attacked “is sacrosanct.”
- “We mean when we say an attack against one is an attack against all,” Biden said.
- Biden asserted that Finland’s and Sweden’s decision to move away from neutrality to join NATO will make the alliance stronger and more secure.
- President Pedro Sánchez of Spain told leaders at their first group session that entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO “is a milestone” that will make the alliance stronger.
- “The world is looking at us. Let us show them our unity and our cohesion,” he said.
- The Department of Defense said the US will “permanently forward station” the V Corps headquarters and field support battalion in Poland.
- Celeste Wallander, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, called it a “significant decision” and a recognition that the US needs to have a “longer-term capability to sustain our presence, our training, our activities, and our support to the countries of the eastern flank. “
Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea’s decision to attend the summit for the first time is significant. It demonstrates the NATO nations’ growing concerns about the rising influence of China in the Indo-Pacific.
Biden has sought to neutralize China in Russia’s war against Ukraine. But will Indo-Pacific powers aligning themselves more closely with the West and NATO’s strategic concept naming China as an area of concern change Xi Jinping’s calculation change?
How the West handles Russian aggression in Ukraine will affect how Xi approaches Taiwan, the US president has stressed. On a trip to Asia last month, Biden said China is “flirting with danger” and recommitted the US to defending Taiwan, which is a democratically-governed part of China, if Xi attempts to take control by force.
Want to know more? Here’s what you missed
Biden is in Europe meeting with allies at a NATO summit. He aims to keep the military alliance united behind Ukraine and foot stomp a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
NATO SUMMIT BEGINS:Biden, NATO allies convene in Spain to craft strategies dealing with Russia, China over next decade
Biden to link threats from Russia, China at NATO
Biden will attempt to rally allied nations at the NATO summit behind his argument that there are two rising challengers to the world’s democracies: Russia and China.
Biden will argue that ties are deepening between the two countries, and democracies around the globe should strengthen their own ties.
“Not because NATO is going to be fighting wars in the Pacific but because there is an interconnection,” said Biden’s top national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
Biden will jointly meet with Japanese and South Korean leaders on Wednesday. The US president is also expected to meet with Turkey’s Erdoğan.
Turkey had been blocking Sweden and Finland’s application to join NATO but removed its opposition on the first day of the summit.