NATO Chief Meets Biden in White House Over Ukraine

NATO Chief Meets Biden in White House Over Ukraine
President Joe Biden meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (L) in the White House on June 13, 2023. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with President Joe Biden on Tuesday to discuss the war in Ukraine.

In the meeting in the Oval Office, Stoltenberg said that NATO members should step up their spending for defense, reaching at least 2 percent of their GDP.

“It has to be a minimum of what allies have to invest in our shared security,” Stoltenberg said of the spending target.

Last year, only seven countries in the 31-member alliance met that target goal: the United States, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, the United Kingdom, Estonia, and Greece.

The meeting with Biden was ahead of a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11-12.

“At our summit in Lithuania next month, we are going to be building on that momentum, working to ensure allies [spend] enough on defense,” Biden said.

Biden said the U.S. commitment to NATO was rock solid. The Biden administration later announced $325 million in new military aid to Ukraine.

Stoltenberg also met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday.

Blinken thanked Stoltenberg for his leadership “during one of the most critical times I can remember.”

Stoltenberg is scheduled to leave his post at the end of September after nine years as NATO’s head, and there is no consensus on who should replace him.

Stoltenberg’s visit came as Ukraine attempted to seize back ground taken by the Russians as part of a long-awaited counter-offensive against the invaders.

“The support that we are providing together to Ukraine is now making a difference on the battlefield as we speak because the offensive is launched, and Ukrainians are making progress,” Stoltenberg said.

“It’s still early days, but what we do know is that the more land Ukrainians are able to liberate, the stronger hand they will have at the negotiating table.”

He said more aid would be pledged at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

“That’s exactly what we’ll do when we meet—all the NATO leaders—at the summit in Vilnius next month, where we [will] agree to sustain and step up our support for Ukraine,” he said.

Biden, who has sought to keep NATO allies united against Russia since the war broke out in February 2022, said: “God willing, we’ll be able to keep this unity up.”

Many NATO members would like a decision on who will head the alliance when leaders meet in Lithuania.

That does not give NATO’s 31 nations, spanning from the United States to Turkey, much time to forge the consensus needed to pick a new leader.

Long-Range Missiles

Russia uses long-range missiles to strike targets in Ukraine. Last month, Britain became the first country to supply Ukraine with long-range missiles.

Ukraine has asked Germany for Taurus cruise missiles, which have a range of 500 km (311 miles), while French President Emmanuel Macron has said France will give Ukraine missiles with a range allowing it to carry out its counter-offensive.

The Kremlin said at the end of May that any supply of long-range missiles to Kyiv by France and Germany would lead to a further round of “spiraling tension” in the Ukraine conflict.

Russia has repeatedly criticized Western countries for supplying Ukraine with weapons and has warned that NATO members have effectively become direct parties to the conflict.

NTD Photo
The Russian Foreign Ministry headquarters are seen next to one of the towers of Moscow’s Kremlin, on March 15, 2023. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

On Monday, Russia’s defense ministry said it had repelled attempted offensives by Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions and had hit targets with sea-launched high-precision missile strikes.

NTD Photo
A still image from a video shows what are said to be destroyed armored vehicles of the Ukrainian armed forces, in the course of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in an unidentified location in the southern Donetsk region in Ukraine, in this image taken from handout footage released on June 10, 2023. (Russian Defense Ministry via Reuters)

Ukraine said on Monday its troops had recaptured a fourth village from Russian forces in a cluster of settlements in the southeast, a day after reporting the first small gains of its counter-offensive.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had revealed in June that Ukraine was ready for a counter-offensive to recapture territory that was acquired by Russian forces, warning of large casualties in the fight.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the leader of Kyiv’s government said that a long-reported counter-offensive would come soon. However, he warned that “a large number of soldiers will die” in the attempt.

Former President Donald Trump said this month that officials are lying about the real number of casualties in the Ukraine war.

Speaking to FOX News, he said that “the deaths are far more than they’re reporting. When they say: ‘Nine apartment houses got knocked down, and two people got hurt’—no, no, hundreds of people died. The numbers are much different than what you’re being told.”

Reuters and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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