President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the U.S. is enhancing its force posture in Europe for the long haul to bolster regional security after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Meeting with NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg in Madrid for the opening of the alliance’s annual leaders summit, Biden says “NATO is strong and united, and the steps we’re taking during this summit, we’re going to further augment our collective strength.” Biden says the U.S. is establishing a permanent headquarters in Poland, sending two additional F-35 fighter jet squadrons to the UK and will send more “air defense and other capabilities” in Germany and Italy.
“Today I’m announcing the United States will enhance our force posture in Europe and respond to the changing security environment as well as strengthening our collective security,” Biden said, detailing the announcements.
“In Poland, we’re going establish a permanent headquarters, the US Fifth Army Corps, and strengthen the US-NATO interoperability across the entire eastern flank,” Biden said. He added that the U.S. is also stepping up its rotational deployments of troops to the Baltic region.
A day earlier, Biden announced that the U.S. would base two additional destroyers at its naval base in Rota, Spain.
The U.S. currently has more than 100,000 servicemembers deployed across Europe, up by about 20,000 since before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine began four months ago.
Biden predicted that the meetings this week would mark a “history-making summit,” as leaders are set to approve a new strategic framework, announce a range of steps to boost their defense spending and capabilities, and clear the way for historically neutral Finland and Sweden to join NATO.
“Putin was looking for the Finland-ization of Europe,” Biden said. “You’re gonna get the NATO-ization of Europe. And that’s exactly what he didn’t want, but exactly what needs to be done to guarantee security for Europe.” Turkey, the last remaining holdout to approve the Nordic countries’ accession into NATO, reached an agreement on the eve of the summit late Tuesday to support adding them to the 30-nation alliance.
While the White House said the U.S. was not a direct party to the negotiations, 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.
At the summit, Biden will also sit down with South Korean President Yoon Seok-youl and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who are attending the NATO summit as the alliance looks to strengthen its ties in the Indo-Pacific region and address challenges from China. The White House said the three-way meeting would also discuss North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.