Biden’s mission in Europe: Shore up alliance against Russia

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden out to maintain a global alliance that punishes Russia for their aggression Ukraine as he embarks on a five-day trip to Europe as the four-month war shows no sign of abating and its aftershocks on global food and energy supplies deepen.
Biden first attended the Group of Seven leading economic powerhouse meeting in Germany’s Bavarian Alps and then went to Madrid for a summit with the leaders of 30 NATO Nation. The visit comes as the global coalition supporting Ukraine and punishing Russia for its aggressive behavior has shown signs of cracking amid soaring inflation in food and energy prices caused by the conflict. .
The Ukraine war has entered a more negative phase since Biden’s last trip to Europe in March, just weeks after Russia launched the attack. At the time, he met with allies in Brussels when Ukraine was under frequent bombardment, and he tried to reassure his Eastern European partners in Poland that they would not be the next to face aggression. import from Moscow.
Russia’s subsequent retreat from western Ukraine and regrouping in the east turned the conflict into a bloody artillery barrage and door-to-door fighting in the country’s industrial heartland, the Donbas region.
While US officials see a broad consensus on keeping pressure on Russia and maintaining support for Ukraine in the near term, they see Biden’s trip as an opportunity to recalibrate the war. strategy for both the conflict and its global division toward winter and beyond.
The allies differ on whether their goal is simply to restore peace or to force Russia to pay a deeper price for the conflict to prevent a repeat of it.
“Every country speaks for itself, every country has concerns about what they are willing to do or not do,” said John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council. was stronger and more viable than it is today. ”
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is about to speak via video of both summits. The US and its allies have funneled billions of dollars in military support to his country and imposed increasingly harsher sanctions on Russia over the invasion.
Kirby said the allies would make new “commitments” during the summit to decouple Russia from the global economy. The aim is to make it more difficult for Moscow to obtain the technology to rebuild its depleted arsenal in Ukraine and to crack down on sanctions evasion by Russia and its oligarchs. this.
G-7 summits have traditionally put global financial issues first, but amid soaring inflation in the US and Europe, little concrete action is expected.
“There are different dynamics of inflation in different economies, different things can be used to address,” said Josh Lipsky, director of the Center for Geoeconomics at the Atlantic Council. it. He predicts “lack of ability to do something coordinated with inflation, other than to actually talk about the problem.”
Biden has largely blamed the price increase on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, especially in the energy market, as US and allied sanctions have limited Moscow’s ability to sell oil and gas supplies. . U.S. and European officials say maintaining Western resolve will only become harder as the war drags on and cost-of-living issues pose political headaches for politicians. domestic leaders.
Finding ways to switch from Russian energy to other sources – without resetting the long-term goals to combat climate change – is seen as an important point of discussion.
Russia was a member of the G-8 then. It was expelled from the group in 2014 after it invaded Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, a move that heralded the current crisis.
The top priority of Western officials attending the summit was to find a way to bring Ukraine’s huge grain harvest to the world market, because United Nation and others warn of tens of millions of people starving because supplies are scarce. The most impactful changes will require Russia to agree to an agreement to stop targeting food and food infrastructure and to agree to establish a sea corridor that allows grain exports from Ukraine.
In Madrid, Biden will help advance NATO’s effort to welcome Finland and Sweden into the alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted two historically neutral democracies to seek defense association protection. each other.
It remains to be seen whether Biden will meet with the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has indicated that he plans to prevent the two countries joining NATO unless he receives concessions. Adding new members requires the unanimous support of existing NATO members.
American officials maintained optimism that the two countries would be welcomed into the alliance, but played down expectations of a breakthrough in Madrid.
Biden often talks about how the world is in the midst of a generational struggle between democracies and autocracies that will set the global agenda for decades to come. He wants to use the trip to demonstrate that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has “fortified” democracies in the face of threats from autocracies in both Moscow and Beijing.
Biden is also securing a major NATO step in recognizing China as an emerging challenge to the alliance. The official reference to China in NATO’s new “Strategic Concept”, the first update to the bloc’s guiding principles since 2010, responds to efforts under multiple presidents to open up broaden the alliance’s focus to China, even in the face of an increasingly aggressive Russia.
In a symbolic move, NATO invited Pacific leaders from Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia to the summit.
“Rather than distracting us from the Indo-Pacific and China, the president’s leadership in pro-Ukraine has really inspired leaders in the region,” Kirby told reporters. that region and effectively link our efforts in Europe and Asia.” “I think and the Asian countries that will be participating in the NATO Summit will talk a lot about that fact.”
Biden is also set to relaunch his idea for a global infrastructure investment program to counter China’s influence in the developing world, which he previously called “Rebuilding the World.” better” and introduced at the G-7 summit in 2021.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused NATO of trying to “start a new Cold War” and warned the alliance to “draw out ideological lines that could cause confrontation”.

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