US President Joe Biden and leaders of other Nato member states are set to announce new aid and stress a membership pledge for Ukraine at a summit in Washington on Wednesday after Biden vowed to stand by Kyiv in its fight against Russia’s invasion.
A communique, expected to be released later on Wednesday, said the allies intend to provide Ukraine with at least €40bn ($43.28bn) in military aid within the next year, but stopped short of the multi-year commitment Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had sought.
The document, seen by Reuters, also strengthened past Nato language on China, calling it a “decisive enabler” of Russia’s war effort in Ukraine and saying Beijing continues to pose systemic challenges to Euro-Atlantic security.
Biden said in a speech on Tuesday that Nato was “stronger than it’s ever been” and that Ukraine can and will stop Russian President Vladimir Putin “with our full, collective support”.
On Wednesday, he said he was pleased all Nato members were pledging to expand their industrial bases and to develop plans for defence production at home.
“We cannot allow the alliance to fall behind,” Biden said. “We can and will defend every inch of Nato territory and we’ll do it together.”
Biden, 81, has faced questions about his fitness for office after fumbling a June 27 debate and hopes the Nato spotlight will help him stage a comeback of sorts, surrounded by allied leaders he has spent his three years in office cultivating.
However, November’s US presidential election could presage a sharp change in Washington’s support for Ukraine and Nato. Republican candidate Donald Trump, 78, has questioned the amount of aid given to Ukraine to fight Russia’s invasion and US support for allies generally.
On Wednesday, Trump told Fox News Radio he would not pull the US out of Nato but reiterated that he wanted members to pay more. “I just want them to pay their bills. We’re protecting Europe. They take advantage of us very badly,” he said.
Trump had pressed congressional Republicans to stall military aid for Ukraine before later reversing course.
Uncertainty about US leadership has unsettled Nato allies.
“If there’s one thing that I’m concerned about with the United States, it’s the polarization of the political climate — it is, I have to admit, very toxic,” Alexander Stubb, president of Nato member Finland, told reporters.
While Biden has been seeking to rally allies and domestic support, several high-ranking European officials met a top foreign policy adviser to Trump during the summit.
Stoltenberg told reporters he expected allies will agree upon a “substantial” package for Kyiv that would involve a new Nato command for Ukraine to provide security assistance and training.
There would be new announcements of immediate military support, he said, including air defence and moves to ensure full interoperability between Ukrainian forces and Nato forces.
Nato members have announced the delivery of five additional Patriot and other strategic air defence systems to help Ukraine.
The communique says the alliance will continue to support Ukraine “on its irreversible path to full Euro-Atlantic integration, including Nato membership”. That language had been a major point of contention among the allies.
It called on China to cease material and political support for Russia’s war effort. It expressed concern about China’s space capabilities, referenced rapid expansion of its nuclear arsenal, and urged Beijing to engage in strategic risk reduction talks.
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