Biden’s Europe Trip Will Show Unity, Will It Be Enough?

(CNN) — President Joe Biden and other world leaders hope to finalize and unveil a set of new measures to punish Russia, help Ukraine and demonstrate Western unity at a series of emergency summits in Europe this week.

But short of a dramatic show of wartime resolve, few observers think whatever leaders can agree on will be enough to end the bloodshed in Ukraine or deter Russian President Vladimir. Putin to continue their attacks which are causing more and more harm to civilians.

Since the prospect of a NATO leaders’ summit was first mooted about two weeks ago, US and European officials have been discussing possible announcements the leaders could make at the end of the meeting. , according to several people familiar with the plans. .

This could include new rounds of sanctions against Russian oligarchs, additional measures to tighten the country’s finances and new measures to limit the import of Russian energy products. military assistance or financial aid to strengthen the country’s defences.

And Biden left open the possibility of expanding US troop deployments to NATO members along the alliance’s eastern edge, bolstering US commitment to European defense at a critical time.

But the stark reality that such measures are unlikely to stop Putin’s war will hang over Biden’s visit to Brussels for a whirlwind meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as well as a special session of the European Council and a G7 meeting. Biden could also add another stop in Eastern Europe, potentially in Poland, officials said. He leaves Washington on Wednesday for high-level diplomatic exercises.

While Biden has successfully rallied European and Asian allies behind a punitive sanctions package and unprecedented levels of military assistance, he and his NATO counterparts have set limits on the end of their support. And while all parties appear to support a diplomatic solution to the crisis, US and European officials say the parameters of such a deal remain murky.

It leaves open how Biden’s visit to Europe, one of the turning points of his presidency, could alter the course of Europe’s worst conflict since World War II. And that raises another point of contention that world leaders need to start addressing: what if, or when, Ukraine can no longer withstand Russia’s attack?

“They will have to see what happens if Ukraine is lost,” said retired Army General Wesley Clark, a former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. “After weighing the question of what would happen if Ukraine fell, they have to think about what else can be done to keep Ukraine in the fight. Yes, there is a risk. There is always a risk to deal with Mr. Putin.”

Biden challenged to be ‘the leader of the world’

Biden was publicly challenged by the Ukrainian leader last week to take responsibility for ending the fighting. In an emotivo discourse before the Congress, in which he had a area of ​​air exclusion and tried to acquire combat aircraft, the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky habló directly with Biden, who was observing his private library in the third party of the White House.

“To be the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace,” Zelensky said in English.

Biden was also challenged by former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to visit Ukraine as a “symbol of our solidarity” during his trip to Europe this week.

Speaking to CNN’s Jim Acosta on Saturday afternoon, Poroshenko called Biden “a very good friend of mine and a very good friend of Ukraine,” adding that a visit from Biden would be “an extremely correct step to show that the whole world is with us against Russia.

Biden: Our sanctions are crushing the Russian economy 5:46

Those personal pleas will have resonated with a man who promised to restore American leadership, renew American alliances and defend democracy against the rising tide of authoritarianism as he sought office.

Nowhere will that challenge be more relevant than during this week’s emergency talks, where leaders look to Biden for direction and purpose as the war in Ukraine rages on.

“He challenges Biden to fulfill his responsibilities as leader of the West, leader of the democratic community of nations. And he presented the de facto challenge to NATO,” said Ian Brzezinski, deputy undersecretary of defense. for Europe and NATO in the George W. Bush administration.

“I was saying that if NATO is not up to this challenge, we have to think about other security arrangements,” Brzezinski said. “What a powerful challenge to NATO’s relevance in our time. This sets the context for (the) summit meeting.”

The limits of support for Ukraine in view before the trip

However, when the summits were announced last week, some European diplomats expressed concern over what they saw as a lack of major steps available to leaders at the high-level meeting, which Russia and Ukraine will be watching closely.

The main elements Ukraine wants, such as NATO help in establishing a no-fly zone or the supply of Soviet-era fighter jets, seem to have been ruled out for now. off the table as the United States and its partners seek to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia. This means that any announcements coming out of the meetings are likely to focus more on increasing the aid already provided, including military and financial aid, or on applying new sanctions to Russia.

European and American officials said discussions on the announcements and a final joint statement were underway as the countries sought to reach a decision or a starting point for the summit.

“The president is looking forward to seeing his counterparts face to face. I suspect they will have a number of new measures that they can reveal and roll out during those talks, but I’m not going to get ahead of them a few days in advance,” the deputy U.S. adviser said last week. national security Jon Finer on CNN.

Delivering on a major announcement at the summit could help underscore the continued unity among the allies, which US officials say surprised Putin as his military struggles with casualties on the ground.

“He miscalculated about the West. I think he thought…there would be some reprimands, maybe some punishment, but he was able to cash in, and he was able to keep going, and he was able to keep going” said Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine. .

“Instead, it has inspired a resurgence of NATO. And the West is united in opposition and trying to provide not only some kind of reinforcement of NATO and neighboring countries on the border of the Ukraine, but also to provide support to Ukraine.

Countering China will be a priority after the Biden-Xi call

The upcoming summits will also give Biden a chance to take the temperature of his counterparts on another issue: what to do if Chinese President Xi Jinping decides to provide military or economic support to Russia, as Putin has demanded.

During a 110-Minute call with Xi last week, Biden laid out the “implications and consequences” of such support, according to the White House. But punishing China, the world’s second-largest economy, would be far more complicated than it has been with Russia and would require the same unity with Europe, which has not always agreed with Biden on how to deal with it. approach Beijing.

“This is an incredibly important summit. It is being held in an extraordinary way in the midst of a crisis. This is partly to ensure that we and our allies [estemos] on the same page, which is fine. But it’s also very important to send a signal to Vladimir Putin,” said Kurt Volker, former US ambassador to NATO and special envoy to Ukraine.

Volker identified several messages for the alliance to send at its summit, including recommitment to the Article 5 Collective Defense Guarantee and a clear indication that Russia’s use of nuclear weapons would warrant a Western response. .

But he said NATO must also make it clear that Ukraine, which is not a member of its group, is nevertheless an issue of critical importance to its members.

“I think it is very important that NATO also sends a signal about Ukraine, that the survival of Ukraine as an independent and sovereign state in Europe is in NATO’s interest “, Volker said. “We don’t want to say what we’re not doing. We don’t want to be too specific about what we’re going to do. But we have to send a signal to Putin that we’re not going to sit idly by while he destroys and eliminates a sovereign European country.”

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