Joe Biden announced that the United States would increase its military forces across Europe with more land, sea and air deployments, as he met with NATO leaders for a two-day summit in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Arriving at the Madrid meeting, the American president announced the stationing of a 3,000-man combat brigade in Romania, two squadrons of F-35 fighters in the United Kingdom and two navy destroyers in Spain.
“The United States and its allies will step up. We are stepping up. We are proving that NATO is more needed now than it has ever been,” Biden said in a short statement he read before the start of the first summit meeting.
Biden’s announcement is expected to be followed by new pledges from NATO members to build up forces on the alliance’s eastern flank, which was discussed by NATO leaders on Wednesday morning .
The morning meeting heard an address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which he called on NATO members to provide more advanced weapons, particularly artillery, to help “Ukraine put an end to this war by winning on the battlefield now”.
He also warned that Kyiv needed financial support to meet the costs of fighting Russia. “We need about $5 billion a month,” Zelenskiy said, saying his country was fighting a country identified as NATO’s most serious threat. “We are deterring Russia from destroying us and destroying you,” he said.
Britain has confirmed it will increase its commitment to a NATO battlegroup in Estonia from 1,700 to around 1,000, although the additional forces will be based in the UK, intended to deploy to the country at short term if necessary.
A total of eight NATO frontline battlegroups stretching from Estonia to Bulgaria, once designed to act as a small initial defense force, are expected to be increased in size to a brigade level of 3,000 to 5,000 troops.
Different NATO members will contribute to each as part of a sea change in the alliance’s military posture. Germany has already declared that it will increase its current commitment to Lithuania to brigade size.
The US president also said the US Fifth Corps would establish a permanent base in Poland, additional troops would be committed to the Baltic states, and additional air defense systems would be stationed in Germany and Italy.
It was, Biden said, a response to Russian aggression, adding, “Together with our allies, we will ensure that NATO is ready to meet threats in all domains, land, air and sea,” which came “at a time when Putin shattered the peace in Europe and the very principles of the rules-based order”.
The United States sent an additional 20,000 troops to Europe earlier this year, bringing the total based across the continent to more than 100,000. Wednesday’s announcements add to that and Biden said the United States “would continue to adjust our posture” if necessary.
NATO’s new defense plans mean that 300,000 troops would be placed at a high level of readiness to deter any Russian attack. Forces will be available on days or weeks notice to be sent to the front line if needed.
Later, Biden also thanked his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for reaching an agreement with Finland and Sweden to allow the Nordic countries to end decades of neutrality and join NATO, during a a bilateral meeting between the leaders.
US officials added that they now support Turkey’s desire to buy F-16 fighter jets and modernize its air force. “The US Department of Defense fully supports Turkey’s modernization plans,” said Celeste Wallander, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.
Leaders at the summit endorsed a new NATO Strategic Concept, the first time the alliance has revised its vision statement since 2010. It formally acknowledged that Russia poses “the most significant and direct threat for the security of the allies”.
The 2010 summit where the old document was approved was attended by then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Stoltenberg recalled. “We agreed that Russia is a strategic partner of NATO and we had meetings with Russia during the NATO summit. And of course, that won’t be the case now.
The new document also made reference to China for the first time, warning that Beijing’s “stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values” and that a “deepening strategic partnership” with the Russia and the attempts of the two countries to undermine the rules of the international order based on independence, “go against our values and our interests”.