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NATO summit: President Joe Biden pledges greater U.S. military presence in Europe to counter Russia

 UPI News logo: MainLogo UPI News 6/29/2022 Darryl Coote & Clyde Hughes

June 29 (UPI) -- Speaking at a key NATO summit in Spain on Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden said that the United States will increase its military operations in Europe and will help create a permanent NATO headquarters in Poland.

Biden made the pledges during remarks Wednesday on the first day of the two-day summit, which is being held in Madrid.

The American president added that the move to increase activity will help NATO defend member states against potential threats from Russia and allies to Moscow.

"[Russian President Vladimir] Putin has shattered peace in Europe and attacked the very, very tenants of rule-based order," Biden said. "The United States and our allies are stepping up, proving NATO is more needed now than it ever has been, and it's as important as it has ever been."

Biden noted that the Pentagon will make new military deployments in Europe to build on the initial groups that were sent to Poland and Romania after the war in Ukraine began in late February. Part of the new activity will be a new permanent headquarters for the U.S. 5th Army Corps in Poland, something Russia has opposed in the past.

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg greets U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain. Photo via NATO/UPI

Earlier, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance is facing the world's "most serious security crisis" since World War II.

Biden also promised to deploy two more F-35 fighter jet squadrons to Britain, send new "air defense and other capabilities" to Germany and make additional rotational deployments in Romania and the Baltic region.

"We have to stay together," Biden said earlier this week during a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the G7 summit in Krun. "Because Putin has been counting on, from the beginning, that somehow NATO would, and the G7 would, splinter. But we haven't, and we're not going to."

Also at Wednesday's session, NATO formally extended invitations for Sweden and Finland to join. The invitations were made possible on Tuesday when Turkey, who'd opposed both nations joining the alliance, dropped its opposition after discussions among officials of the three countries. All new members must be unanimously approved for admission.

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U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at Torrejon Airbase outside Madrid, Spain, on Tuesday ahead of the two-day NATO summit. Photo by Paul Hanna/UPI

The member nations also agreed on the alliance's new Strategic Concept, which addresses various security challenges. When the concept was adopted in 2010, member states agreed that Russia was a strategic partner. Stoltenberg said prior to the meeting on Wednesday that is no longer so.

The document now states Russia poses "the most significant and direct threat" to the alliance's security, Stoltenberg said during a press conference later in the day.

It has also been updated concerning China, which was not named once when the nations approved the Strategic Concept more than a decade ago. Now it states Beijing's coercive policies "challenge our interests, security and values."

According to the White House, the Strategic Concept will guide the alliance's efforts to protect allies "in response to Russian's aggression, as well as the People's Republic of China, and the deepening strategic partnership between Russia and China."

Stoltenberg described the agreement by member states as a "fundamental shift" in NATO's defense and deterrence.

"We will strengthen our forward defenses. We will enhance our battlegroups in the eastern part of the alliance, up to brigade level. We will transform the NATO Response Force. And increase the number of high readiness forces to well over 300,000."

The nations agreed to continue arming and financing Ukraine in its fight against Russia with a Comprehensive Assistance Package, which Stoltenberg said includes secure communications, fuel, medical supplies, equipment to counter mines and chemical and biological weapons and hundreds of portable anti-drone systems.

In the long term, the alliance, he said, will help transition Ukraine from Soviet-era equipment to modern NATO weapons as well as work to further strengthen its defense and security institutions.

"A strong, independent Ukraine is vital for the stability of the Euro-Atlantic area," he said.

Biden arrived in Spain on Tuesday after the G7 summit in Germany, where he and other leaders vowed continued support for Ukraine.

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