Biden revels in NATO unity after Ukraine tensions ease


HELSINKI – After a NATO summit threatened to erupt into divisions, President Joe Biden is basking in praise for the newest member of the transatlantic defense pact and an upcoming addition.

“The way you created unity between the allies was great,” President Sauli Niinistö of Finland told Biden in Helsinki on Thursday. At a meeting of Nordic leaders, he welcomed Biden as “Mr. President, dear Joe.

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of Sweden said: “Lately, I have known you more than I have known my own family. I really like it.» Sweden’s attempt to join the military alliance was revived this week after Turkey overturned its objections on the eve of the NATO summit in Lithuania.

Biden wrapped up his symbolism-filled five-day European trip in Finland, a Nordic country that shares an 830-mile border with Russia and abandoned decades of diplomatic neutrality in April when it became the 31st member of the security alliance of NATO.

“We are at a turning point in history where the decisions we make now will determine the course of history for the next four or five, six decades,” Biden said at a news conference at the presidential palace. “This week, we affirm how Finland and the United States, along with allies and partners, are working in unison to put us on a stronger, safer, and more secure path.”

Five years ago, President Donald Trump was in the same palace for a more than two-hour meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin without notes, after which he suggested that Putin was more credible than the US intelligence chief. USA

More recently, Trump has called for a swift end to the war in Ukraine, in stark contrast to Biden, who has repeatedly affirmed his administration’s long-term support for Ukraine.

But even as Biden promised this week to bolster kyiv’s defenses in its war against Russia, he ruled out a path for Ukraine to join NATO while the war rages and with reforms yet to be enacted.

On the eve of his meeting with Biden, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy lashed out at the “vague words about ‘conditions’” in a draft NATO statement.

NATO first offered Ukraine the promise of future membership more than 15 years ago, a declaration that loomed over the summit in Vilnius in Lithuania, a former Soviet state that once hid behind the Iron Curtain and today , just 30 miles from Belarus, is still under the control of Moscow. influence.

Any tension had publicly subsided when Biden and Zelenskyy met with other leaders to announce a framework for countries to negotiate individual security deals with Ukraine outside of NATO parameters.

When asked about Zelenskyy’s concerns about the timing of NATO membership, Biden replied: «He’s not worried about it right now.»

“One thing that Zelenskyy understands now is whether or not he is in NATO now is not relevant as long as he has the commitments,” Biden told reporters in Vilnius.

In Finland, a country whose recent history is a reminder of how political conditions can change over time, Biden stressed the stakes in what he called a much bigger battle.

“Our allies and partners around the world understand that this fight is not just a fight for the future of Ukraine; it is about sovereignty, security and freedom itself,” Biden said in Helsinki. “Think about what would have happened if we hadn’t done anything. What is likely to happen in the rest of Europe if we do nothing?

However, Biden may soon face questions about the American public’s appetite for a war in Ukraine that has cost tens of billions of dollars and depleted America’s artillery stocks.

Biden worked with US embassy staff and their families for nearly 30 minutes before boarding Air Force One, then tripped on one of the steps while boarding the plane.

The moment was a small reminder of the grueling demands of the job as Biden embarks on a closely watched re-election bid: He would be 86 by the end of his second term if he wins.

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