President Biden and other leaders of the NATO alliance gathered in Brussels on Thursday to plan the next steps in their response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has turned into a bloody standoff exactly a month after it began.
Biden arrived for the emergency leaders’ meeting just before 10 a.m. Belgium time and was greeted by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The two exchanged friendly words and walked past reporters without stopping to answer questions.
The NATO summit – which will include a video address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy – is the first of three major events on Biden’s calendar on Thursday. Later in the day, Biden will sit down with leaders of the G-7 group of industrialized nations and then meet with European Union leaders.
The main purpose of Biden’s trip is to coordinate new sanctions against Russian officials. Penalties against the 300 members of Russia’s lower house of parliament – the Duma – could be announced as early as Thursday.
NATO members are also expected to discuss the creation of four new multinational battlegroups, each with between 1,000 and 1,500 troops, along their eastern front to repel further Russian aggression.
“We have to do more and therefore we have to invest more,” Stoltenberg told reporters on Thursday. “There is a renewed sense of urgency and I expect leaders will agree to accelerate defense investment.”
All of this is unlikely to satisfy Zelensky, who has advocated the establishment of a no-fly zone and the deployment of fighter jets and air defense systems in a series of addresses to Western parliaments since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24. In his remarks late Wednesday, Zelenskyy said he would asking NATO leaders to “declare that they will fully help Ukraine to win this war” by supplying all the necessary weapons.
However, Western nations have been reluctant to expand their aid to Ukraine beyond small arms and anti-tank missiles for fear of drawing Russia into direct conflict with NATO.
Before leaving Washington on Wednesday, Biden told reporters he believes there is a “real threat” that Russian President Vladimir Putin will order the use of chemical weapons to bolster his invading forces – which only succeeded in the first , only to capture a major Ukrainian city 28 days of their attack due to logistical errors and unexpectedly fierce resistance.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters Wednesday that NATO allies were consulting on how to respond to “potential contingencies” of this nature, including “this whole question of the possible use of nuclear weapons.”
Ahead of Thursday’s summit, Stoltenberg said that “any use of chemical weapons would fundamentally change the nature of the conflict. It would be a flagrant violation of international law and will have far-reaching and serious consequences.”
The secretary-general, however, paused by saying that the alliance would take military action in response to such an attack in non-NATO Ukraine.
“I will not speculate beyond the fact that NATO is always ready to defend, protect and respond to any type of attack on a NATO-allied country,” he said.
With postal wires
https://nypost.com/2022/03/24/biden-arrives-at-nato-hq-in-brussels-for-ukraine-war-summits/ Biden arrives at NATO headquarters in Brussels for war summits in Ukraine