Amid a meeting at the White House with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, President Biden and he reaffirmed their support for Ukraine in its war against Russia.
According to the White House, the two leaders “discussed the implications of Russia’s war on Ukraine for transatlantic security and the importance of continuing to strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defense. They welcomed the support that Allies and partners are providing bilaterally to help Ukraine defend itself from Russian aggression.”
Biden and Stoltenberg met just after the President approved another $325 million presidential drawdown, which allows the Pentagon to speedily supply Ukraine defense articles and services.
“We’ve strengthened NATO’s eastern flank, made it clear that we’ll defend every inch of NATO territory. And I say it again: The commitment of the United States to NATO’s Article 5 is rock solid,” Biden said.
Article 5 of the NATO charter says that an attack on one NATO nation is an attack on all member nations.
Stoltenberg on Wednesday reiterated support for Ukraine eventually becoming a NATO member.
He said that during the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania in July he expects member nations to agree on a “multi-year program where we help to move Ukraine to transition from old standards, equipment, procedures, doctrines to NATO standards and become fully interoperable with NATO.” He added that those steps would bring “Ukraine closer to NATO.”
Both Stoltenberg and Biden said that the goal of the summit is to sustain and step up support to Ukraine and further strengthen the alliance’s deterrence.
They also made a point Wednesday of saying they look forward to welcoming Sweden into the alliance at the summit next month. That’s despite member nation Turkey holding up the unanimous approval necessary to allow to allow Sweden to join over Stockholm’s unwillingness to prosecute anti-Islam activists and pro-Kurdish groups inside that country.
“Sweden’s expectations don’t mean we’ll follow them,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.
Stoltenberg is set to step down from his position as the 13th Secretary-General in the NATO alliance’s 74 year history during the upcoming summit, but it has not been publicly reported whether the topic of who should succeed him came up during his private discussions with Biden.
Last week, Biden hosted at the White House Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who is widely viewed as a potential contender to replace Stoltenberg. He also hosted British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who made the case for Biden to support UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace for the position.
When asked by a reporter during Sunak’s visit whether it was time for a British official to lead NATO, Biden answered, “Maybe. That remains to be seen.”