NATO invites Sweden, Finland to join; US promises more forces

Reflecting NATO’s resolve to bolster its defenses in the face of Russia’s war in Ukraine, President Biden announced on Wednesday that the US would send more troops to Europe as the transatlantic alliance formally invited Finland and Sweden to become members.

“NATO is strong and united,” Biden said during a meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the first full day of the summit here. “And the steps that we are taking during this summit, we are going to further increase our collective strength.”

Biden stressed that the alliance seeks to protect “every inch” of territory in accordance with the “sacred” Article V of its charter, which considers an attack on a member country as an attack on all.

This protective umbrella is expected to cover Sweden and Finland in a historic expansion of the alliance after Turkey withdrew its objections to joining the two countries on Tuesday. Once each member’s parliament ratifies the expansion, expected to take several months, NATO territory will include Finland’s 810-mile border with Russia — further evidence, Biden said, that the attack on Ukraine backfired on Russian President Vladimir Putin. .

“Putin wanted to Finnishize Europe,” Biden said, referring to Helsinki’s decades-old non-alignment stance, fearful of angering Moscow.

But the war in Ukraine is leading to the “natization of Europe,” Biden said. “And this is exactly what he did not want – but exactly what needs to be done to guarantee the security of Europe.”

Putin, who has given several justifications for attacking Ukraine, initially cited Ukraine’s own desire to join NATO as a pretext for his speech in February. 24 invasion.

Russian rocket strikes on civilian targets in Ukraine this week As the G7 and NATO leaders gather in Europe, they are sending a threatening message to the West, re-crystallizing the importance and urgency of strengthening NATO forces in the face of Russian aggression.

Describing additional U.S. commitments in Europe, Biden said the U.S. would establish new army headquarters in Poland – the first permanent American base on NATO’s eastern flank – and a 3,000-troop rotational battle group brigade in Romania to ensure rapid deployment in the region.

Celeste Wallander, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, told reporters that a permanent US presence in Poland would help ensure that NATO forces are better equipped to respond quickly if needed.

The US will also deploy two additional F-35 fighter squadrons to the UK and boost “air defense and other capabilities” in Germany and Italy, Biden said.

Biden’s remarks come less than 24 hours after he said Tuesday during a meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez that the US would station two additional destroyers at its naval base in Rota, Spain.

There are currently about 100,000 US troops stationed in Europe, reflecting growth around 20,000 since Russia attacked Ukraine. Biden called the new commitments a response “to the changing security environment, as well as strengthening our collective security.”

US officials stressed that the reinforcements would not violate a 1997 NATO-Russia agreement that bans deployment of combat troops in Eastern Europe, as new combat deployments would be rotational rather than permanent. “There has been no communication with Moscow about these changes, and there is no need to do so,” said John F. Kirby, a spokesman for Biden’s National Security Council.

This NATO summit, which comes just months after an emergency meeting called by Biden at the organization’s headquarters in Brussels, shows just how dramatically Putin’s actions have changed security calculations across Europe. Stoltenberg said the war in Ukraine represents “the most serious security crisis we have faced since World War II.”

Alliance leaders, meeting on the outskirts of Madrid on Wednesday and Thursday, intend to adopt a new strategic concept for the next 10 years – the first such renewal of NATO in more than a decade – which includes additional battlegroups in the east and a commitment by member countries, after years of reluctance to send more money for defense.

This concept is also likely to help solve the problem that an increasingly powerful China is creating. To this end, the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand were invited to the NATO summit for the first time as guests.

At the beginning of the afternoon meeting, which was attended by about three dozen world leaders, Stoltenberg bluntly called China another hostile state. “China does not share our values ​​and, like Russia, seeks to undermine the rules-based international order,” he said.

Between NATO sessions, Biden met with the leaders of Japan and South Korea, calling cooperation between the three countries “essential.”