Joe Biden heads to Europe for G7 and NATO summits under pressure to do more on Ukraine
President Joe Biden flies to Europe on Saturday for two major international summits where world leaders will discuss next steps to help Ukraine fight the Russian invasion.
He must first go to Germany for a G7 summit before flying to Spain for a meeting of NATO leaders.
Biden is under pressure to do more to support Volodomyr Zelensky’s government, amid accusations that he has been too slow to provide aid.
And it comes as Ukrainian troops withdraw from the battle in Donbas, chased by the Russian war machine.
While prime ministers and presidents of France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy have all visited the Ukrainian capital, the 79-year-old US president stayed away for security reasons.
“Turning up in Kiev may not make a huge material difference to the war effort, but it is symbolic of how European leaders think Biden is leading too much from behind,” said a senior diplomat from a European Union state.
“There is evidence that the US must lead the way.”
Some diplomats have also been annoyed at the way they see the US dragging its feet on supplying long-range weapons — or fighter jets — for fear it would infuriate Moscow.
“We need Biden to be more direct,” said a diplomat from an allied country.
President Joe Biden heads to Europe on Saturday morning for two summits of world leaders who will be dominated by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Ukrainian leaders demand weapons and ammunition that will help them match Russian firepower
President Volodomyr Zelensky is expected to address the G7 and NATO summits. He can be seen here on a video screen at the Glastonbury Festival. He is expected to demand more weapons
After weeks of Russian bombing, Ukrainian troops withdraw from the city of Sievierodonetsk. They say they can’t match Russian long-range firepower
US officials dispute that assessment, pointing out that Washington announced an additional $450 million in military aid on Thursday.
It included High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, tens of thousands of additional ammunition and patrol boats to help protect the shoreline.
It brings total aid to more than $6 billion since Russia launched its invasion.
National Security Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said Biden would use a series of meetings to try to further isolate Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his allies.
At the G7 summit in Germany and the NATO summit in Spain, you will see clearly how the president’s initial focus on reviving alliances and partnerships has enabled us to seize this moment to empower the American people. support Ukraine and Russia is responsible, while continuing to focus on the other challenges that will define the coming decades, and that includes China’s challenges,” he said.
Zelensky is expected to address both summits via video link.
It comes at a time when his forces in eastern Ukraine are under intense pressure.
They have called for more ammunition, artillery and missiles to keep pace with Russia in what has become a protracted war of attrition.
On Friday, one of Zelensky’s top generals told his US counterpart that Ukraine needed “fire parity” to stabilize the eastern region of Luhansk.
“We discussed the operational situation and the flow of international technical assistance,” Ukrainian General Valeriy Zaluzhniy wrote on the Telegram app after a phone call with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley.
It came as Ukrainian troops withdrew from the disputed city of Sievierodonetsk after weeks of bombing.
Allies said they wanted Biden to take US leadership to the peaks.
A spokesman for the British embassy said: “At the G7 and NATO, we will work with the US and all our Allies to build united and lasting commitments to Ukraine – on sanctions, military and economic support – to show Putin that our leadership will not waver in the face of his terrible and illegal invasion.”
A senior government official said Biden will announce measures to increase pressure on Russia at the G7 before taking steps to address price increases around the world.
“Thirdly, leaders will also put forward a vision of the world based on freedom and openness, not on coercion, not on aggression, not on spheres of influence,” the official said.
‘They strengthen our cooperation on economic issues, cyberspace and quantum, and in particular the challenges of China.’
But Ash Jain, of the Atlantic Council, said that argument — Biden’s well-rehearsed democracy versus autocracy worldview — could prove a hard sell at the G7.
“Other G7 countries, especially France and Germany, are less interested in the idea of looking at the challenges through this lens of democracy versus autocracy,” he said.
“There are potential drawbacks in terms of alienation from some of the other partners that the US and its allies need and want to continue working with.
“So one of the questions coming out of the G7 will be whether leaders are willing to embrace this kind of framing of the challenges in its statement at the summit.”