Biden, Western allies open first of 3 summits on Russian war

By Chris Megarian, Lorna Cook and Aamer Madani

BRUSSELS (AP) – World leaders heard passionate pleas on Thursday from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for more military aid to defend their country and the United States announced new sanctions and humanitarian aid, as officials called Russia’s Month of the Month. The trio had gathered for the summit to discuss next steps to combat. Old invasion of your very young neighbor.

The extraordinary series of summits – organized by NATO, the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations and the European Union – reflected alarm that the conflict shows no sign of ending anytime soon and even beyond Ukraine’s borders. may spread. As Europe faces its biggest crisis in generations, Western leaders continue to look for ways to increase pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, while avoiding moves that could lead to widespread war on the continent .

Zelensky, addressing a NATO gathering by video from Kyiv, called for “military aid without limits” because Russia is “without border using its entire arsenal.” He specifically asked for anti-air and anti-ship weapons. And although Zelensky thanked Westerners for the support they had already provided, his disappointment was evident.

He urged NATO to provide “1% of all your planes, 1% of all your tanks” to Ukraine. “We just can’t buy them,” Zelensky said. “When we have it all, it will give us, like you, 100% protection.”

US President Joe Biden, who is attending all three summits, said more aid was being offered.

“We are committed to identifying additional equipment, including air defense systems, to help Ukraine,” Biden said in a written statement after the NATO meeting.

Billions of dollars worth of military hardware has already been made available. A US official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said Western countries were discussing the possibility of providing anti-ship weapons amid concerns that Russia could launch amphibious attacks on the Black Sea coast. will start.

The White House announced that the US would welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and provide an additional $1 billion in food, medicine, water and other supplies.

At the same time, Washington will expand its sanctions on Russia, targeting members of the country’s parliament, known as the Duma, and defense contractors. The US will also work with other Western countries to ensure the gold reserves held by Russia’s central bank are subject to current sanctions.

With Russia facing increasing international isolation, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned China against coming to its rescue.

“They should join the rest of the world and explicitly condemn the brutal war against Ukraine and not support Russia,” he said after the in-camera meeting.

The possibility that Russia would use chemical or nuclear weapons has been a serious topic of conversation in Brussels, but a possibility leaders were preparing for.

Biden has said the prospect is a “real threat”. In addition, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN this week that Russia may consider using its nuclear weapons if it believes “there is a potential threat to our country.”

A senior European diplomat said Western leaders would continue to hold quiet discussions on what would become the world’s first strategic nuclear weapon if Russia resorts to it.

The Russian aggression has prompted European countries to rethink their military spending, and Stoltenberg opened the NATO summit by saying that the alliance must “respond to a new security reality in Europe.”

Addressing the leaders sitting at a large round table, he said, “We gather at an important time for our safety.” “We are united in our condemnation of the Kremlin’s unprovoked aggression and our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

While the West has remained largely united in confronting Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, there is widespread acceptance that unity will be tested as the war chip costs the global economy.

The consolidation of forces along NATO’s eastern flank, almost certainly for at least the next five to 10 years if Russia is to be effectively deterred, will also put pressure on the national budget.

“We need to do more, and therefore we need to invest more. There is a new sense of urgency and I hope leaders will agree to accelerate investment in defense,” Stoltenberg said ahead of the summit said.

The energy crisis exacerbated by the war will be a particularly hot topic at the European Council summit, where the leaders of Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece are hoping for an immediate, coordinated bloc-wide response. EU officials have said they will seek US help on plans to expand natural gas storage facilities for next winter, and they also want the bloc to jointly buy gas.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has dismissed calls to boycott Russian energy supplies, saying it would hurt his country’s economy significantly. Scholz is facing pressure from environmental activists to quickly wean Germany off Russian energy, but he said the process would have to be done gradually.

“To do so from one day to the next would mean plunging our country and the whole of Europe into recession,” Scholz said on Wednesday.

EU executive branch chief Ursula von der Leyen said before Biden’s visit to discuss the possibility of securing additional deliveries of liquefied natural gas from the United States for the 27-nation bloc “for the next two winters”. want to

The EU imports 90% of the natural gas used for electricity, heat houses and the supply industry, Russia supplies about 40% of the EU’s gas and a quarter of oil. The bloc is looking at ways to reduce its reliance on Russian gas by diversifying suppliers.

Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US was looking for ways to “increase” LNG supplies to Europe to help.

Poland and other eastern NATO countries also want clarity on how the US and fellow European nations can help deal with their growing concerns about Russian aggression as well as a growing refugee crisis. More than 3.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine in recent weeks, with more than 2 million fleeing to Poland.

Biden is scheduled to visit Poland on Friday, where energy and refugee issues are expected to be at the center of talks with President Andrzej Duda.

Sullivan said the goal of Biden and fellow leaders would be to “draw a long-term game plan” of the forces and capabilities needed for the eastern countries of the coalition.

Four new NATO battle groups, usually numbering between 1,000–1,500 soldiers, are being established in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Biden arrived in Brussels with Americans and swiftly acknowledged the need for the US to help stop Putin, according to a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

But even as anxiety among Americans grew and support for a major US role in the conflict strengthened last month, Biden’s negative approval ratings haven’t been shaken, an AP-NORC poll found. Very few believe he can handle the crisis, and most think he lacks rigor in dealing with Russia.

Biden promised voters he had experience navigating the complex international emergency facing Europe and that his trip would be the latest test of that proposition.

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Madani reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Matthew Lee, Hannah Fingerhut, Ellen Nichmeyer and Darlene Superville in Washington, Daria Litvinova in Lviv, Ukraine, and Samuel Petrequin in Brussels contributed to this report.

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