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Nato will stick with Ukraine as long as it takes, says Joe Biden | Nato

Joe Biden has declared that the US and Nato allies will stick with Ukraine “as long as it takes” at the end of a two-day summit that saw the military alliance promise hundreds of thousands more troops to defend eastern Europe.

The US president also announced another $800m of military aid to Kyiv – but questions remained over how much detail there was behind the plan to create a 300,000-strong force to deter any Russian attack.

Speaking at a final press conference in Madrid on Thursday, Biden was pressed twice as to whether there would be any limit to US military aid and financial support for the regime in Kyiv as the war rages for a fifth month.

“We’re gonna stick with Ukraine, and all of the allies will stick with Ukraine, as long as it takes, and in fact make sure they are not defeated,” Biden told a press conference on Thursday lunchtime.

But the president did not predict that Ukraine would be able to kick the Russians out, even with a continued supply of western weapons. “I don’t know how it’s going to end, but it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine,” he said.

The president repeated the formulation when asked how long it would be fair for global consumers to pay for higher petrol prices because fighting was ongoing. People would have to wait “as long as it takes; Russia cannot in fact defeat Ukraine”.

Biden said the US would unveil the fresh package of military aid in the next few days comprising “new advanced weapon and air defense systems, more artillery ammunition, counter battery radar, additional ammunition for Himars [rocket artillery] and a couple of large rocket systems”.

US military aid to Ukraine has already exceeded $7bn, Biden added, making Washington easily the largest donor of advanced weapons systems of the type that Kyiv says it desperately needs to blunt a gradual but remorseless Russian advance in the eastern Donbas region.

During the summit, the UK said it would make available a further £1bn of lethal aid, for electronic warfare, air defence and ammunition, taking its total to £2.3bn. France said it would send six more Caesar cannons of the type that Russian bloggers said had pressured Moscow’s forces to abandon Snake Island in the Black Sea on Thursday.

The president’s address concluded one of Nato’s most significant meetings, the alliance having been revitalised and transformed by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February.

Earlier this week, a deal was reached with Turkey to allow Finland and Sweden to join Nato, the two Nordic countries abandoning decades of military neutrality, and strengthening the alliance’s position in the Baltic region.

Putin, Biden said, wanted “the Finlandisation of Nato, but he got the Natoisation of Finland” and that Nato would now be “closer than ever” given that Finland shares an 830-mile frontier with Russia, far longer than any border of existing member of the 30-country military alliance.

Nato leaders in the conference hall in Madrid on 30 June.
Nato leaders in the conference hall in Madrid on 30 June. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

However, Moscow’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said a new “iron curtain” was descending between Russia and the west, in a meeting with his counterpart from Belarus, one of the few countries to maintain close links. “They should just be careful not to pinch anything,” he quipped.

During the summit, Nato leaders signed off a plan to create a new 300,000 high-readiness force to deter any Russian invasion, and fresh information emerged about the plans on Thursday.

Nato sources said it would comprise 100,000 tier 1 troops available to move to the frontline in “zero to 10 days” and another 200,000 in tier 2 forces deployable for “up to 30 days”.

Nevertheless, while the US and the UK announced fresh commitments during the summit, Nato officials acknowledged that the full plan would take until “mid 2023” to be concluded. A key point of tension remains among member states as to whether troops would be deployed in frontline countries or not.

Insiders said that Estonia and Lithuania were among the frontline countries calling for thousands more Nato forces to be based in their territories. But for now the UK and Germany – for Estonia and Lithuania respectively – have only agreed to commit extra troops if they are based at home.

“The plans are not complete because the processes of national negotiations are ongoing,” one senior military insider said. “Lithuania is saying, that’s great what you have offered, but we would like to have more. The Estonians say that’s great what UK is offered, but we may want to have a division.”

Britain this week offered to commit 1,000 more troops to defending Estonia, adding to its existing force in country of about 1,700 and taking the total of earmarked troops the size of a brigade – but the defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said these would be based in the UK.

A division would represent a far larger commitment, three to four brigades and perhaps 15,000. Britain has traditionally led Nato defence forces in Estonia, while Germany has taken responsibility for Lithuania.

Earlier this month, Estonia’s prime minister, Kaja Kallas, said she feared her country could be “wiped off the map” under Nato’s existing and soon to be replaced defence plans. They allowed for the Baltic states to be overrun for 180 days before seeking to liberate them.

Moscow on Thursday said that it had summoned the British ambassador to Moscow to protest against “offensive” British statements, including about alleged Russian threats to use nuclear weapons.

The Russian foreign ministry said it had protested to Ambassador Deborah Bronnert over “the frankly boorish statements of the British leadership regarding Russia, its leader and official representatives of the authorities, as well as the Russian people”.
It was not immediately clear what specific remarks the statement was referring to.

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