By CHRIS MEGERIAN, LORNE COOK and AAMER MADHANI
BRAZIL (AP) – President Joe Biden and Western allies pledge new sanctions and humanitarian aid on Thursday in response to Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine, but their bids failed to reach the strongest military assistance President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for of live. -Video appearances.
Leaders spent Thursday working out their next steps to counter the Russian invasion a month ago, and looking into how they might respond if Putin deployed a chemical, biological or even nuclear weapon. They met in a trio of emergency summits that took them through Brussels for meetings followed by NATO, the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations and the 27-member European Council.
Biden, in a press conference in the early hours of the night after meeting with NATO and G-7 leaders, warned that a chemical attack by Russia “would trigger a response in kind.”
“You’re wondering if NATO would cross over. We would make that decision in due course,” Biden said.
However, a White House official later said that this did not imply any change in the position of the United States in the face of direct military action in Ukraine. Biden and NATO allies had previously stressed that the US and NATO would not place troops on the ground in Ukraine.
The official was not allowed to comment publicly on his name and only spoke on condition of anonymity.
Zelenskyy, though grateful for his help, made it clear to Western allies that he needed much more than they were willing to give.
“One percent of all your planes, one percent of all your tanks,” Zelenskyy asked members of the NATO alliance. “We can’t just buy those. When we have all this, it will give us, like you, 100% security.
Biden, who attended all three summits, said he was on his way to more help. But Western leaders also suggested that they were stepping carefully so as not to further intensify the conflict beyond Ukraine’s borders.
“NATO has decided to support Ukraine in this war without going to war with Russia,” said French President Emmanuel Macron. “That’s why we decided to intensify our ongoing work to avoid any escalation and get organized in case an escalation occurs.”
Millions of dollars of military hardware have already been provided. A U.S. official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said Western nations were discussing the possibility of providing anti-ship weapons amid concerns that Russia would launch amphibious attacks along the Black Sea coast.
Biden said his top priority at Thursday’s meetings was to make sure the West stayed on the same page in its response to Russian aggression against Ukraine.
“The most important thing is that we are united,” Biden said.
On the other hand, the White House announced that the United States would receive 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and provide an additional $ 1 billion in food, medicine, water and other supplies.
Finland announced on Thursday that it would send more military equipment to Ukraine, its second shipment in about three weeks. And Belgium has announced it will add a billion euros to its defense budget in response to Russia’s invasion.
At the same time, Washington will extend its sanctions against Russia, targeting members of the country’s parliament alongside defense contractors. The United States will also work with other Western nations to ensure that Russia’s central bank’s gold reserves are subject to existing sanctions.
In the face of growing international isolation from Russia, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has also warned China not to go to Moscow’s rescue. He called on Beijing to “join the rest of the world and clearly condemn the brutal war against Ukraine and not support Russia.”
But Stoltenberg also made it clear that the West had a “responsibility to prevent this conflict from turning into a Europe-wide war.”
The possibility of Russia using chemical or even nuclear weapons was a gloomy topic of conversation in Brussels, but a possibility for leaders to prepare.
White House officials say both the United States and NATO have been working on contingency planning if Russia deploys unconventional weapons. NATO has specially trained and equipped forces ready to be deployed if there is such an attack on the population, territory or forces of a member nation.
Stoltenberg said NATO leaders agreed on Thursday to send equipment to Ukraine to protect it from a chemical weapons attack.
“This could include screening, protection and medical support equipment, as well as training for decontamination and crisis management,” he said.
Biden before leaving for Europe on Wednesday said the possibility of a chemical attack was a “real threat”. In addition, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN this week that Russia could consider using its nuclear weapons if it considers that there is “an existential threat to our country.”
Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin warned on Thursday: “Russia is capable of anything.”
“They don’t follow any rules,” Marin told reporters. “They do not respect any international law with which they are really committed.”
The Russian invasion prompted European nations to reconsider their military spending, and Stoltenberg opened the NATO summit saying the alliance must “respond to a new security reality in Europe.”
Although the West has largely unified to face Russia after it invaded Ukraine, there is widespread recognition that unity will be proven as the cost of the war chip in the global economy.
Strengthening forces along NATO’s east flank, almost certainly for at least the next five or ten years if Russia is to be effectively deterred, will put pressure on national budgets.
The energy crisis exacerbated by the war will be a particularly hot topic at the European Council summit, where the leaders of Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece await an urgent and coordinated response across the bloc. EU officials have said they will seek US help. UU. in a plan to recharge natural gas storage facilities for next winter, and they also want the block to buy gas together.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has rejected calls for a boycott of Russia’s energy supply, saying it would cause significant damage to his country’s economy. Scholz faces pressure from environmental activists to quickly withdraw Germany from Russian energy, but said the process will have to be gradual.
“Doing so overnight would mean plunging our country and all of Europe into recession,” Scholz said on Wednesday.
Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Union’s executive arm, said before Biden’s visit that she wanted to discuss the possibility of securing additional deliveries of liquefied natural gas from the United States for the 27-nation bloc “for the next two winters”.
The EU imports 90% of the natural gas used to generate electricity, heat homes and supply industry, with Russia supplying almost 40% of EU gas and a quarter of its oil. The bloc is looking for ways to reduce its dependence on Russian gas by diversifying suppliers.
The United States is looking for ways to “increase” LNG supplies to Europe to help, said Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser.
Poland and other NATO countries on the eastern flank will also seek clarity on how the United States and European nations can help deal with their growing concerns about Russian aggression as well as the spiraling refugee crisis. More than 3.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine in recent weeks, including more than 2 million to Poland.
Biden is scheduled to visit Poland on Friday, where energy and refugee issues are expected to be at the center of talks with President Andrzej Duda.
Four new NATO combat groups are being set up in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, usually numbering between 1,000 and 1,500 soldiers.
Madhani reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Matthew Lee, Hannah Fingerhut, Ellen Knickmeyer and Darlene Superville in Washington, Dasha Litvinova in Lviv (Ukraine) and Samuel Petrequin in Brussels contributed to this report.
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