Biden’s European trip will be heavy on displays of Western unity, but could be light on actions to stop Putin’s war in Ukraine

Biden’s European trip will be heavy on displays of Western unity, but could be light on actions to stop Putin’s war in Ukraine

Since the prospect of the NATO leaders’ summit was first mooted about two weeks ago, U.S. and European officials have been discussing potential announcements the leaders could make at the end of the meeting, according to multiple sources. people familiar with the plans.

This could include new rounds of sanctions against Russian oligarchs, additional measures restricting the country’s finances and new measures to limit the import of Russian energy products. Discussions are also underway on measures that could be unveiled to provide more support to Ukraine, including further deliveries of military assistance or financial aid to strengthen the country’s defences.

And Biden has left open the possibility of increasing US troop deployments to NATO members along the alliance’s eastern edge, bolstering US commitment to European defense at a critical time.

But the stark reality that these measures are unlikely to curb Putin’s war will hang over Biden’s visit to Brussels for a whirlwind meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as well as a special Council session. European and a G7 gathering. Biden could also add another stop in Eastern Europe, potentially in Poland, officials said. He leaves Washington on Wednesday for high-level diplomatic maneuvers.

While Biden has managed to rally European and Asian allies behind a punitive sanctions package and unprecedented levels of military assistance, he and his NATO counterparts have drawn lines where their support will end. And while all parties appear to support a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, US and European officials say the parameters of such a settlement remain murky.

It leaves open how Biden’s visit to Europe — one of the inflection moments of his presidency — may alter the course of Europe’s worst conflict since World War II. And that poses another talking point that world leaders need to start addressing: what if, or when, Ukraine can no longer withstand Russia’s onslaught?

“They’re going to have to look at what happens if Ukraine is lost,” said retired General Wesley Clark, NATO’s former Supreme Allied Commander. “After weighing the problem of what would happen if Ukraine fell, they have to think about what more can be done to support Ukraine in the fight. Yes, there is a risk. There is always a risk in dealing with Mr. Putin.”

Biden challenged to be ‘the leader of the world’

Biden was publicly challenged by the Ukrainian leader last week to take responsibility for ending the fighting. In an emotional speech to Congress, in which he called for a no-fly zone and help with the purchase of fighter jets, President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke directly to Biden, who was watching from his library private on the third floor of the White House.

“To be the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace,” Zelensky said in English.

Biden was also challenged by former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to visit Ukraine as a “symbol of our solidarity” during his trip to Europe this week.

Speaking to CNN’s Jim Acosta on Saturday afternoon, Poroshenko called Biden “a very good friend of mine and a very good friend of Ukraine,” adding that a visit from Biden would be “an extremely fair step to demonstrate that the whole world is with us against Russia.”

Those personal calls will have resonated with a man who vowed as he sought office to restore American leadership, renew American alliances and defend democracy against the creeping tide of authoritarianism. .

Nowhere will that challenge be more relevant than during this week’s emergency talks, where leaders look to Biden for direction and purpose as the war in Ukraine advances.

“He challenges Biden to live up to his responsibilities as the leader of the West, leader of the democratic community of nations. And he presented the de facto challenge to NATO,” said Ian Brzezinski, undersecretary Defense Assistant for Europe and NATO in the George W. Bush administration.

“He was saying that if NATO is not up to this challenge, we have to think about other security arrangements,” Brzezinski said. “What a powerful challenge to NATO’s relevance in our time. This sets the context for … (the) summit meeting.”

The limits of support for Ukraine fully exposed before the trip

Yet as the summits were announced last week, some European diplomats expressed concern over what they saw as a lack of major measures available to leaders at the high-level meeting, which the Russia and Ukraine will be watching closely.

Key elements Ukraine wants, like NATO help to establish a no-fly zone or provide Soviet-era fighter jets, appear irrelevant for now as the United States United and their partners seek to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia. This means that any announcements coming out of the meetings would likely focus more on increasing the aid already provided, including military and financial aid, or on applying new sanctions to Russia.

EU and US officials said discussions over the announcements and a final joint statement were underway as the countries seek to agree on a decision or takeaways for the summit to produce.

“The president is looking forward to seeing his counterparts face to face. I suspect they will have a number of new measures they can disclose and roll out during these conversations, but I’m not going to get ahead of them a few days later. ‘move forward,’ US Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer told CNN last week.

Delivering on a major announcement at the summit could help underscore the ongoing unity among allies, which US officials say surprised Putin as his military struggles with casualties on the ground.

“He miscalculated about the West. I think he thought…there would be some reprimands, maybe some punishment, but he could resist it, and he could carry on, and he could move on. “said Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine.

“Instead, he inspired a resurgence of NATO. And the West is united in opposition and not only trying to somehow strengthen NATO and the flank countries on the border of Ukraine , but also to provide support to Ukraine.”

Countering China will be a priority after the Biden-Xi call

The upcoming summits will also provide Biden with an opportunity to take the temperature of his counterparts on another topic: what to do if Chinese President Xi Jinping decides to provide military or economic support to Russia, as Putin has demanded.

During a 110-minute call with Xi last week, Biden laid out the “implications and consequences” of continuing that support, according to the White House. But punishing China – the world’s second largest economy – would be much more complicated than it has been with Russia, and would require the same unity with Europe, which has not always agreed with Biden on the way to approach Beijing.

“This is an incredibly important summit. It is taking place in an extraordinary way in the midst of a crisis. This is partly to ensure that we and our allies [are] on the same page, which is fine. But it’s also very important to send a signal to Vladimir Putin,” said Kurt Volker, former US ambassador to NATO and special envoy for Ukraine.

Volker identified several messages the alliance needs to send at its summit, including recommitting to the collective defense guarantee of Article 5 and clarifying that Russia’s use of nuclear weapons would justify a Western response.

But he said NATO must also make it clear that Ukraine – which is not a member of its group – is nevertheless an issue of critical importance to its members.

“I think it is very important that NATO also sends a signal about Ukraine, that the survival of Ukraine as an independent and sovereign state in Europe is in NATO’s interest “, Volker said. “We don’t want to say what we’re not doing. We don’t want to be too specific about what we’re going to do. But we have to send a signal to Putin that we’re not going to sit idly by while he destroys and eliminates a sovereign European country.”

                                                                 Originally published on Newsnetdaily