MADRID ( Associated Press) – President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the US will significantly increase its military presence in Europe over the long term, including establishing its first permanent presence in Poland to bolster regional security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. .
Meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the opening of the coalition’s annual leaders’ summit in Madrid, Biden said “NATO is strong and united” and that the steps taken during the gathering will “further enhance our collective strength.” “
Biden began his participation in the summit by announcing the permanent base of a US military garrison in Poland. He also said the US is sending two additional F-35 fighter jet squadrons to Britain and more air defense and other capabilities to Germany and Italy.
“Today I am announcing that the United States will increase its military posture in Europe and strengthen our collective security in line with the changing security environment,” he said.
Stoltenberg, who said earlier on Wednesday that Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine was causing the coalition to face its biggest challenge since World War II, welcomed Biden’s announcement.
“This really demonstrates your decisive leadership and strength in the trans-Atlantic bond,” Stoltenberg said, thanking Biden for “the unwavering support from you and the United States to Ukraine.”
Read more: Scottish leader calls for new independence referendum next year
Biden said the US would permanently deploy US Army V Corps Forward Command in Poland, a move he said would strengthen US-NATO interoperability in the eastern side of the alliance. The move marks the first permanent US military base on the eastern side of NATO. Biden said the US was increasing its rotational deployment of troops to Romania and the Baltic region.
Celeste Wallander, an assistant US defense secretary for international affairs, told reporters that a permanent presence in Poland would be crucial to helping NATO navigate the changed security environment in Europe caused by Russia’s aggression. The US supplies the bulk of NATO’s military power.
US officials emphasized that the permanent base applied only to headquarters units, not combat troops, and was therefore in line with a 1997 agreement between NATO and Russia in which the coalition permanently relocated military troops to Eastern Europe. It was agreed not to build the base as it was intended to be a more creative build. Relations in the post-Cold War environment.
Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski told Poland’s state PAP news agency that the decision to add the US command structure was a “manifestation of closer cooperation between the US and Poland” and would give NATO allies a frontline insight into the Russian threat.
The combat units Biden is sending to Romania and the Baltic regions are on rotational deployment rather than permanent assignment to remain in compliance with that agreement.
Biden’s National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said: “There has been no communication with Moscow about these changes, and there is no need to do so.”
Biden announced after arriving for the summit on Tuesday that the US would deploy two additional destroyers to its naval base in Rota, Spain, bringing the total number to six.
The US currently has more than 100,000 troops stationed across Europe, up from about 20,000 just before Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine four months ago.
Biden predicted that the meetings this week will lead to a “history-making summit” as leaders are expected to approve a new strategic framework, announce a slew of steps to boost their defense spending and capabilities, and set aside historically neutral Finland and Sweden. was determined to clear the way for to join NATO.
Biden said Putin thought NATO members would split after invading Ukraine, but received the opposite reaction.
“Putin was looking for a Finland-doing of Europe,” Biden said. “You are about to achieve NATO-ization of Europe. And that is not exactly what he wanted, but what exactly needs to be done to guarantee security for Europe.”
Turkey, the last remaining holdout to approve the Nordic countries’ entry into NATO, reached an agreement late Tuesday on the eve of the summit to support adding them to the 30-nation coalition.
While the White House said the US was not a direct party to the talks, a senior administration official said Biden spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoan on Tuesday to help clear the way for Sweden and Finland to join. to be encouraged. The White House said the two leaders would meet on Wednesday afternoon to discuss other issues.
Biden also sat on Wednesday with South Korean President Eun Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who are attending the NATO summit as the coalition looks to strengthen its ties in the Indo-Pacific region and address challenges from China. looks for.
The three leaders discussed North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which Biden said all three found “deeply related.”
Biden said “I think our tripartite cooperation is essential” and added that the meeting was an opportunity for leaders to coordinate a shared response, as US officials say the isolated nation may soon conduct another nuclear test. Is.
Associated Press writers Amer Madhani in Washington and Monica Sislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.