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'Ukraine can and will stop Vladimir Putin': Biden tells NATO as he announces 'historic' aid for Kyiv

Biden announced that the US, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries will provide Ukraine with five additional air defence systems. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged US political leaders to not wait for the November elections to help Ukraine as Trump's return looms.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Washington Published on: July 10, 2024 10:56 IST
Biden welcomes NATO leaders in Washington
Image Source : REUTERS US President Joe Biden speaks at a NATO event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the alliance.

Washington: US President Joe Biden affirmed "full support" for Ukraine and exuded confidence that the country "can and will" stop Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression as he welcomed NATO member-states to a Washington summit on Tuesday. This came as Biden, 81, endured 12 days of withering questions about his fitness for office as some of his fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill after his dismal debate performance against former President Donald Trump on June 27.

"In Europe, Putin's war of aggression against Ukraine continues, and Putin wants nothing less, nothing less than Ukraine's total subjugation... and to wipe Ukraine off the map. But make no mistake, Ukraine can and will stop Putin. Especially with our full collective support. And they have our full support," he said in his welcoming speech to NATO member states to the summit.

He also announced a "historic" donation of air defense equipment for Ukraine. "The United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and Italy will provide Ukraine with the equipment for five additional strategic air defence systems. And in the coming months, the United States and our partners intend to provide Ukraine with dozens of additional tactical air defence systems. The United States will make sure that when we export critical air defence interceptors, Ukraine goes to the front of the line," he said.

Do not wait for November to help Ukraine: Zelenskyy

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged US political leaders in Washington to not wait for the outcome of the upcoming November elections to move forcefully to aid his country against Russia's invasion. "It is time to step out of the shadows, to make strong decisions ... to act and not to wait for November or any other month," he said at the Ronald Reagan Institute on the eve of the NATO summit.

He further said he could not predict Trump's actions if he regains the US presidency in November. Zelenskyy hoped Trump would not quit the 75-year-old NATO alliance and that America would keep supporting Ukraine in its defense against Russia's more than two-year-old invasion. "I don't know (him) very well," he said of Trump, adding he had "good meetings" with him during Trump's first presidency but said that was before Russia's 2022 invasion.

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for the US presidential election in November, has frequently criticised the size of US military support for Ukraine - some $60 billion since Russia's full-scale invasion in 2022 - and called Zelenskyy "the greatest salesman ever" during the presidential debate on June 27. Two of his national security advisers have presented Trump with a plan to end US military aid to Ukraine unless it opened talks with Russia to end the conflict.

The Ukrainian President said his country needs a minimum of seven Patriot systems, a goal met by the fresh deliveries announced on Tuesday. "We are fighting for additional security guarantees for Ukraine - and these are weapons and finances, political support," he said on social media.

Meanwhile, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said NATO will announce in the coming days a new military command in Germany led by a three-star general for training and equipping Ukrainian troops, and appoint a senior representative in Kyiv to deepen Ukraine's relationship with the alliance. Biden and Zelenskyy are scheduled to meet in November.

Biden's post-debate debacle

The White House is hoping he can turn the page on a difficult period in his presidency with his highest-profile policy speech since the debate, although some diplomats at the summit said the damage was hard to erase. On Tuesday, Biden spoke off of a teleprompter with a strong and confident voice and largely avoided the verbal flubs and signs of confusion that marked his debate performance.

"Today NATO is stronger, smarter and more energized than when you began. And a billion people across Europe and North America, indeed the whole world, will reap the rewards of your labour for years to come in the form of security, opportunity and greater freedom," he said while presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the US, to outgoing NATO chief Jen Stoltenberg.

The US President has been attacked by his own party colleagues after his poor performance at the Atlanta debate on June 27 against his Republican rival Donald Trump, but adopted a defiant approach on Monday by dismissing the concerns of fellow Democrats on Capital Holl and donors that his persistence could cost the party the White House and Congress in the upcoming election.

"The bottom line here is that I am not going anywhere," he said in an interview. "I have one job and that is to beat Donald Trump. I am absolutely certain I am the best person to be able to do that. So we are done talking about the debate, it is time to put Trump in a bulls eye," Biden said in a private call to donors later in the day.

Biden's remarks came after five of his own party members - Jerry Nadler, Mark Takano, Joe Morelle, Ted Lieu and Adam Smith – expressed their view in this regard during a Democratic Party phone call organised to discuss Biden's below-par debate performance on June 27. Congressman Smith, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said it is time for Biden to go, according to two people familiar with the call.

(with inputs from Reuters)

ALSO READ | 'I am not going anywhere': Biden's strong message to Democrats in post-debate debacle


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