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What does President Biden really want at the unusual NATO summit?

At this week’s extraordinary series of summits in Europe, President Biden and world leaders hope to finalize and announce a new package of sanctions aimed at Russia and show unity. of the West. However, some observers argue that whatever the leaders can agree on will not be enough to end Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

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US President Joe Biden. (Photo: AP)

Since the prospect of a NATO leaders’ summit was first raised about two weeks ago, US and European officials have discussed potential announcements the leaders could make. out when the meeting is over, according to several sources familiar with the plan.

The statements could include new sanctions against Russian oligarchs, additional financial restrictions and new moves to limit imports of Russian energy products. Discussions on ways to support Ukraine, including military assistance or financial aid to bolster its defense capabilities, are underway.

In addition, President Biden left open the option of expanding the size of the deployment of forces on the eastern flank of NATO to strengthen the US commitment to European defense at a critical time.

While all sides appear to favor a diplomatic solution to the crisis, US and European officials say the limits of a deal remain unclear. This would make President Biden’s European visit likely to change the course of Europe’s worst conflict since World War Two.

Pressure on “world leaders”

Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that President Biden must take responsibility for ending the war. “Being a world leader means being a leader of peace”said Mr. Zelensky.

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the US leader’s visit to Ukraine would serve as a “symbol of solidarity” during his visit to Europe this week. However, according to the White House, Mr. Biden will not go to Ukraine as previously reported.

According to CNN, nowhere is the US President’s role as “world leader” more appropriate than at this week’s emergency talks, where leaders are eager to see a way to resolve the conflict. Biden’s Ukraine crisis.

“Biden is being asked to carry out his responsibilities as leader of the West.”said Ian Brzezinski, deputy assistant secretary of defense under US President George W. Bush.

What new sanctions will be introduced?

When the summit plans were announced last week, some European diplomats expressed concern about the lack of key sanctions for leaders to put in place at high-level meetings that both Russia and Ukraine will be watching closely.

The Russian sanctions that Ukraine wanted, such as NATO’s help in establishing a no-fly zone or supplying Soviet-era fighter jets, are now out of consideration. In addition, the partners have sought to avoid direct confrontation with Russia. That means any announcements coming out of the upcoming summits will likely focus more on increasing support for Ukraine, including militarily and financially, or imposing sanctions on Ukraine. New sanctions against Russia.

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Foreign ministers of NATO countries at a meeting on the situation in Ukraine in Brussels, Belgium, March 4. (Photo: AFP)

Discussions on the announcements and a joint statement after the end of the NATO summit are ongoing, US and European officials said.

“President Biden is looking forward to meeting his counterparts in person. I think some new sanctions will probably be revealed and implemented during the summit. But I won’t say anything about their decisions.” US Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer said.

According to CNN, making an important announcement during the summit could help emphasize the current solidarity between the US and its allies.

Put pressure on China

The upcoming summits will also provide an opportunity for President Biden to consider what to do if Chinese President Xi Jinping decides to provide military or economic assistance to Russia at the President’s request. Putin.

In a 110-minute phone call with Xi Jinping last week, Biden outlined the “impact and consequences” of continuing to support Russia, the White House said. However, punishing China, the world’s second-largest economy, will be much more complicated than punishing Russia, and will require unification from Europe. Meanwhile, Europe has not always agreed with the United States on issues related to China.

“This is a hugely important summit taking place on a special basis in light of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Part of it is to make sure that the US and its allies are on the same page. This is very good. But the conference is also very important to send a signal to President Putin.”said Kurt Volker, former US ambassador to NATO and special envoy for Ukraine.

Volker identified a number of messages that NATO must deliver during the summit, including reiterating Article 5 of the NATO Treaty on ensuring collective defense and stating that the West will take countermeasures if Russia uses weapons. nuclear gas.

However, the US official said NATO must also make it clear that Ukraine, which is not a member of the bloc, remains an issue of vital importance to the member states.

“I think it is very important for NATO to send a signal to Ukraine that Ukraine’s existence as an independent and sovereign state in Europe is in NATO’s interest.” Mr. Volker said.

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