President Joe Biden has announced the deployment of United States military reinforcements across Europe in an effort to counter Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine.
Meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Madrid on Wednesday for the opening of the 30-nation alliance’s annual leaders summit, Biden said “the Untied States will enhance our force posture in Europe and respond to the changing security environment as well as strengthening our collective security”.
The president said the US is establishing a permanent army headquarters in Poland, sending two additional F-35 fighter jet squadrons to the United Kingdom, and adding “more defence and other capabilities” in Germany and Italy.
Biden also said he is adding a “rotational brigade” in Romania, consisting of 5,000 troops, and enhancing rotational deployments in Baltic countries.
A day earlier, he had announced that the US is boosting its fleet of naval destroyers from four to six in Rota, Spain.
Biden said on Wednesday the step up in military backing for US allies comes at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin has “shattered peace in Europe and attacked the very tenants of rule-based order”.
“We’re stepping up, proving that NATO is more needed now than it ever has been and it’s important as it ever has been.”
The US currently has more than 100,000 service members deployed across Europe, up by about 20,000 since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began four months ago.
‘NATO-isation of Europe’
The announcement comes as Biden predicted the NATO gathering would mark a “history-making summit” since leaders are set to approve a new strategic framework, announced a range of steps to boost their defence spending and capabilities, and cleared the way for historically neutral Finland and Sweden to join the alliance.
“Putin was looking for the Finland-isation of Europe,” Biden said. “You’re gonna get the NATO-isation of Europe. And that’s exactly what he didn’t want, but exactly what needs to be done to guarantee security for Europe,” Biden added.
Turkey, the last remaining holdout to approve the Nordic countries’ accession into NATO, reached an agreement on the eve of the summit late on Tuesday to support adding them to the alliance.
The US was not a direct party to the negotiations that led to Turkey’s turnaround, but a senior administration official said Biden spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday to encourage him to clear the way for Sweden and Finland to join the alliance.
The two leaders are set to hold a bilateral meeting Wednesday afternoon on a range of issues, the White House said.
Biden is also scheduled to meet with South Korean President Yoon Seok-youl and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the NATO summit as the alliance looks to strengthen its ties in the Indo-Pacific region and address challenges from China.