President BidenJoe BidenRussian missile strikes injured five in western Ukrainian city of Lviv If we delist the IRGC, what will the dictators think? Biden proposes minimum tax for billionaires in the household MORE spent three days in Europe while the US and its allies planned next steps about a month after Russia invaded Ukraine and pledged to help Ukraine defend NATO territory and prevent a Russian presidential victory Wladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussian missile strikes injured five in western Ukrainian city of Lviv If we delist the IRGC, what will the dictators think? Putin’s war against Ukrainian civilians is not new – and it won’t work ANY MORE.
Biden met with NATO and Group of Seven (G-7) leaders in Brussels before visiting Poland to mingle with US troops and greet refugees who had fled Ukraine.
Officials had touted the trip as a show of unity between the US and its allies in the face of the Russian attack on Ukraine. Biden and other leaders announced a series of new initiatives to provide more humanitarian and security assistance to the region.
Here are five key takeaways from this week’s meetings in Brussels and Poland:
Biden swears unity against Putin
Biden blamed Putin directly for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, clearly stating in his speech on Saturday: “It’s Putin, it’s Vladimir Putin who is to blame. Period.”
The goal of the three-day trip was to show that the US and its allies are united and working together against Putin’s invasion. Biden reiterated the US commitment to the NATO treaty and specifically Article 5, which states that an attack on one NATO ally is an attack on all.
He also ended the trip with a statement that Putin could not remain in power.
“Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia because free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness. We will have a different future, a better future rooted in democracy and principle, hope and light, decency and dignity, freedom and opportunity,” Biden said. “For God’s sake, this man can’t stay in power.”
The White House has since sought to dismiss those comments, saying that the president was not calling for regime change, but rather that Putin should not have power outside of Russia.
Before making comments on Saturday, Biden called Putin “a butcher” when asked what he thought of the Russian president for causing the humanitarian fallout of the conflict. The President also on Friday reiterated his belief that Putin committed war crimes and foreign ministers Anton BlinkenAntony BlinkenBiden rallies allies against Russia: Five White House takeaway attempts to push back on Biden by saying Putin can’t stay in power Biden meets with top Ukrainian officials in Poland MORE said Wednesday the Biden administration had determined that Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine.
US steps up refugee aid
The humanitarian crisis resulting from the Russian invasion and attacks on major Ukrainian cities was a central theme of Biden’s visit as he was briefed on the response and met with refugees who had crossed the border into Poland.
Biden announced the US would take in up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, although the actual number is unlikely to be as high as many prefer to move within Europe. Biden also announced $1 billion in aid to be used for food, medical supplies, water, blankets and other supplies.
The President got a first-hand look at the humanitarian consequences of the Russian invasion on Saturday, met with refugees at Warsaw’s PGE Narodowy Stadium and spoke to workers helping to provide meals and care for displaced Ukrainians.
“It’s incredible. You see all these little children. They just want a hug. You just want to say thank you. It just makes you so damn proud,” Biden said, calling the fugitives an “amazing group of people.”
The European Union separately announced this week that it will allocate an additional 3.4 billion euros to humanitarian efforts for the Ukrainian people.
The topic of refugee aid is likely to be a long-running issue. About four million Ukrainians have fled the country within four weeks of the invasion beginning, and the number is set to increase.
The US and allies are preparing for a possible Russian escalation
Biden and NATO leaders signaled during their meetings that they stand ready to respond and present a united front should Russia use chemical weapons or expand its attacks beyond Ukraine.
“We would react if he used it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the deployment,” Biden said Thursday of whether Putin used chemical weapons in Ukraine.
NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana said in an interview with The Associated Press that NATO “stands ready to respond appropriately” if chemical weapons are used.
Four new battlegroups were established in Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary to bolster NATO’s defenses of their territory, bringing the number of multinational NATO battlegroups between the Baltic and Black Seas to eight.
Biden announced those plans Thursday, saying the US will develop new plans for additional forces and capabilities to strengthen NATO’s defenses by the next NATO summit in June.
“The combination of Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine and the changing physical military relationship between Russia and Belarus means, from the President’s perspective, that the United States and NATO must show strength and determination in terms of deployed forces and capabilities on the eastern flank.” , National Security Advisor Jake SullivanJake SullivanPundits seek cyberwar definition after recent cyber alerts Biden rallies allies against Russia: Five takeaways Biden meets with top Ukrainian officials in Poland MORE said Friday.
In addition, NATO agreed to strengthen cyber defenses and equipment to help protect Ukraine against biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear attacks, including detection equipment, protective gear and medical supplies, as well as decontamination and crisis management training.
Biden, EU strike agreement to reduce dependence on Russian energy
One of Russia’s greatest leverages over the rest of Europe is that it is a major energy supplier, supplying much of the continent with natural gas and in the process boosting Russia’s economy.
But a key deal between Biden and European Union leaders in Brussels aims to wean Europe off Russian energy.
Both sides announced a task force “to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and strengthen Europe’s energy security”. Under the agreement, the United States will work with international partners to deliver at least 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2022.
“This new fight for freedom has already made some things crystal clear. First, Europe must end its dependence on Russian fossil fuels, and we, the United States, will help,” Biden said in Warsaw on Saturday.
The European Commission has also pledged to work with European Union member states to ensure demand for around 50 billion cubic meters of LNG from the US by at least 2030, signaling it will be a years-long effort to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy to eliminate completely.
“We have to secure our supply not only for next winter, but also for the years to come. And this is an important, a great starting point for this,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday after the agreement was announced.
The announcement follows other coordinated steps taken by the US and its allies to strike at Russia’s energy sector. Germany announced last month that it would revoke approval for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would deliver gas from Russia to parts of Eastern Europe. And the Biden administration announced earlier this month that it would ban Russian oil, natural gas and coal imports.
Possible global food shortage looms
Biden and NATO leaders discussed potential global food shortages during their meetings in Brussels, a prospect the president warned “is about to become real.”
Both Russia and Ukraine are major wheat suppliers, although the US and Canada are also major wheat producers. The White House warned this week that Russia’s invasion threatens food security for the Middle East, and Africa in particular.
“The price of these sanctions is not only being imposed on Russia, it is also being imposed on a great many countries, including European countries and our country as well,” Biden said Thursday.
To counter this, Biden announced his intention to redouble joint efforts with the European Union to increase global food security and, where justified, provide direct food aid to prevent a crisis.
Biden and NATO leaders spoke of urging all European countries and everyone else to “end trade restrictions on restrictions on food shipments abroad,” the president said Thursday.
The US and its allies are also working out how to ease concerns about food shortages amid rising inflation and ongoing supply chain problems, the president said. Part of that effort will involve the US and Canada to ramp up production.