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  • Borislav Ivanov

Biden Holds Meeting With NATO’s Eastern Leaders in Warsaw.

US President Biden has expressed his support for NATO's easternmost member countries' security. Concerns of a possible Russian threat have grown since the start of the Ukrainian conflict.

Before leaving Poland, US President Joe Biden met with leaders of NATO's easternmost members, the Bucharest Nine.

"The commitment of the United States to NATO, I said it many times, and I say it again, is absolutely clear. Article 5 is a sacred commitment the United States has made," Biden stated. "We will defend literally every inch of NATO, every inch of NATO."

Biden landed in Warsaw late Monday after a surprise visit to Kyiv, just days before Russia's invasion of Ukraine's one-year anniversary.

Credit: Marek Borawski; KPRP

What exactly was on the agenda?

Biden underlined Washington's commitment to the security of its eastern allies and emphasised Washington's support for Kyiv. The nine nations have been vocal backers of military aid to Ukraine and have advocated for further help, such as air defence systems, to the war-torn country. During the conversation, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda urged Biden to deploy additional military hardware in the Baltic states.

"I have spoken about the deployment of so-called critical enablers — this includes airspace surveillance systems, attack helicopters, HIMARS artillery," President Nauseda told reporters. "We can hardly afford to purchase this, but it could be deployed [by allies] to the Baltics on rotational grounds."

Concerns about potential Russian aggression

The Bucharest Nine joined together in response to Russia's invasion of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia are all members.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has promised to maintain ties with Russia, did not attend the B9 summit on Wednesday. Instead, Hungarian President Katalin Novak attended the event.

In light of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, the nine nations who joined NATO after being subjugated by Moscow during the Cold War have increased their worries that Russian President Vladimir Putin may take military action against them.

"When Russia invaded, it wasn't just Ukraine being tested. The whole world faced a test for the ages," Biden remarked in a speech honouring the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated that Russia did not appear to be poised to conclude the conflict over a year after its full-scale invasion of its neighbour. "One year after the Russian invasion, President Putin is not preparing for peace," Stoltenberg stated. "On the contrary, he is preparing more war."

On Wednesday, February 22, 2023, the Bucharest Nine (B9) leaders, including Polish President Andrzej Duda (front row, centre), meet with US President Biden (front row, third from left) and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (second row, left) in Warsaw. Credit: Przemysaw Keler; KPRP

Putin's postponement of NEW START is a "big mistake," according to Biden.

After his arrival at the Presidential House in Warsaw on Wednesday, Biden called Russia's decision to suspend its participation in the New START nuclear weapons limitation pact a "big mistake" in remarks to the press prior to discussions with the Bucharest Nine nations.

Radek Sikorski, a member of the European Parliament who formerly served as Polish defence minister and foreign minister, shared that the European Union must build a "European defence worthy of its name" to ensure European security. "The greatest thing [...] we could do is enhance our European military budget so that the expenses of protecting Europe against Putin are more equitably distributed," he stated.

Biden, according to Sikorski, "planted his standard in Kyiv" and "linked American credibility to Ukraine's success."

"If I were Putin, I'd assume that I'm not going to win this," Sikorski added.

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