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

By Chris Megarian, Lorna Cook and Aamer Madani

BRUSSELS (AP) – President Joe Biden and Western allies promised new sanctions and humanitarian aid on Thursday in response to Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine, but their proposals fell short of stronger military aid that President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Requested to live in a couple. -Video show.

Leaders spent Thursday crafting their next steps to counter Russia’s months-old invasion – and looked at how they might respond whether chemical, biological or even a threat to Putin. Nuclear weapons should also be deployed. They met in a trio of emergency summits that saw them stop in Brussels for back-to-back meetings of NATO, the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations and the 27-member European Council.

Zelensky, grateful for their help, made it clear to the Western Allies that they needed far more than they were currently prepared to give.

“One percent of all your planes, one percent of all your tanks,” Zelensky asked the members of the NATO alliance. “We can’t just buy them. When we have it all, it will give us, like you, 100% protection.”

US President Biden, who is attending all three summits, said more aid was being provided. But Western leaders also suggested they were proceeding with caution so as not to escalate the conflict beyond Ukraine’s borders.

French President Emmanuel Macron said: “NATO has chosen to support Ukraine in this war without going to war with Russia.” “That’s why we have decided to intensify our ongoing work to prevent any escalation and to organize in the event of an increase.”

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.

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

Separately, 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.

Finland announced on Thursday that it would send more military equipment to Ukraine, its second shipment in nearly three weeks. And Belgium announced it would add one billion euros to its defense budget in response to Russia’s invasion.

At the same time, Washington will expand its sanctions on Russia, targeting members of the country’s parliament along with 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 also warned China against coming to Moscow’s rescue. He called on Beijing to “join the rest of the world and explicitly condemn the brutal war against Ukraine and not support Russia”.

But Stoltenberg also clarified that “it was the responsibility of the West to prevent this conflict from becoming a full-fledged war in Europe.”

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.

White House officials said both the US and NATO are working on a contingency plan if Russia deploys non-conventional weapons. NATO has prepared to deploy specially trained and equipped forces should such an attack occur against the population, territory or forces of a member country.

Stoltenberg said NATO leaders on Thursday agreed to send equipment to help protect Ukraine from chemical weapons attacks.

“This could include training for detection equipment, security and medical support, as well as decontamination and crisis management,” he said.

Before leaving for Europe on Wednesday, Biden said the prospect of a chemical attack was 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.”

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin warned on Thursday, “Russia is capable of doing anything.”

“They don’t respect any rules,” Marin told reporters. “They do not respect any international law to which they are genuinely committed.”

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.”

We are united in condemning the unprovoked aggression of the Kremlin and in 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 will almost certainly put pressure on the national budget, at least for the next five to 10 years if Russia is to be effectively deterred.

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 that she would like to discuss the possibility of securing additional deliveries of liquefied natural gas from the United States for the 27-nation bloc “over the next two winters.” For.”

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.

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

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

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