Biden Kicks Off NATO Summit

WASHINGTON—President Joe Biden opened the annual North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Washington on July 9, addressing leaders of the world’s “greatest military alliance” amid rising global geopolitical tensions.

“NATO is stronger than it’s ever been in its history,” President Biden said in his remarks, which centered on Russia’s war in Ukraine.

At the top of this year’s agenda is Russia’s continuing war in Ukraine, where NATO members have poured billions of dollars worth of humanitarian and military assistance into the country’s war effort.

During his speech, President Biden announced additional aid to the war-torn country.

“Today, I’m announcing the historic donation of air defense equipment for Ukraine. The United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, and Italy will provide Ukraine with equipment for five additional strategic air defense systems,” the president said.

President Biden also announced that the United States and its allies will provide Ukraine with “dozens of additional tactical air defense systems” to bolster the country’s defenses in its war against Russia in the coming months.

The president reiterated his commitment to European peace while warning Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia, not Ukraine, will lose the war.

“Make no mistake, Russia is failing in this war. More than two years into Putin’s war of choice, his losses are staggering,” he said.

NTD Photo
President Joe Biden delivers remarks during the NATO 75th anniversary celebratory event at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium in Washington on July 9, 2024. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The venue where the president addressed the world leaders holds historical significance for NATO, now 75 years old. President Harry S. Truman signed the North Atlantic Treaty, which founded the alliance, at the venue in 1949. President Bill Clinton also chose the spot for the 50th anniversary celebration.

Members Agree to Boost Spending

Russian aggression against Ukraine spurred Sweden and Finland to join the alliance last year. In addition, it has driven a surge in defense spending among the alliance’s now 32 member states.

President Biden said that in 2020 when he was elected to the White House, only nine NATO allies were spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.

“This year, 23 will spend at least 2 percent and some will spend more than that, and the remaining countries that have not yet reached that milestone will get there soon,” he said.

“NATO’s a bigger resource than it ever has been.”

During an earlier speech in Washington, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated that he is trying to ensure that all 32 member states meet a minimum yearly defense expenditure.

Speaking to a forum of international defense industry leaders, Mr. Stoltenberg said that the alliance’s ambition to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense will be considered a requirement rather than an aspiration.

“This is a result of a collective decision and collective responsibility,” Mr. Stoltenberg said.

Many NATO member countries have faced criticism from former President Donald Trump for not increasing their defense spending.

Since 2020, NATO has collectively increased its annual spending by $180 billion, a senior Biden administration official told reporters during a call last week.

President Biden ended his speech by awarding Mr. Stoltenberg the Presidential Medal of Freedom, emphasizing the former Norwegian prime minister’s efforts in sustaining world peace through NATO alliances.

He said NATO “is stronger, smarter, and more energized” under Mr. Stoltenberg’s leadership.

Andrew Thornebrooke contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times