Strengthen the alliance against Russia
MUNICH (AP) — President Joe Biden is determined to support the global alliance by punishing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine as he embarks on a five-day trip to Europe as the 4-month war shows no signs of abating and its aftershocks to world food and energy supplies deepen.
Biden joins a meeting for the first time Group of Seven major economic powers in the Bavarian Alps of Germany and later travels to Madrid for a summit with the leaders of the 30 NATO countries. The visit comes as the global coalition aimed at supporting Ukraine and punishing Russia for its aggression has shown signs of unraveling in the face of soaring food and energy price inflation caused by the conflict.
Biden was greeted on the red carpet after arriving in Munich on Saturday evening, greeted by Bavarian music, dozens of people in traditional dress and children presenting him with flowers. He also signed a guestbook.
Biden and G-7 leaders intend to announce a ban on importing gold from Russia, according to a person familiar with White House planning who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly . Gold is Moscow’s second largest export product after energy.
The war in Ukraine has entered a more attritional phase since Biden’s last trip to Europe in March, just weeks after Russia launched its assault. At this time he found allies in Brussels that Ukraine was under regular bombardment and he tried to reassure the Eastern European partners Poland that they would not be the next to face an incursion from Moscow.
Russia’s subsequent withdrawal from western Ukraine and regrouping in the east turned the conflict into artillery battles and bloody house-to-house fighting in the country’s industrial heartland, the Donbass region.
While U.S. officials see broad consensus to keep pressure on Russia and maintain support for Ukraine in the near term, they see Biden’s trip as an opportunity to align strategy for both the conflict and its global ramifications as winter approaches and beyond.
The allies disagree on whether their goals are simply to restore peace or to force Russia to pay a higher price for the conflict in order to prevent its recurrence.
John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said the summit will address issues such as inflation and other “challenges in the global economy in the wake of Mr. Putin’s war – but also how to continue to hold Mr Putin accountable”. and subject to “constant consequences”.
“There will be muscle movements,” he said from Air Force One as Biden flew to Germany.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address both summits via video. The United States and its allies sent his country billions of dollars in military assistance and imposed ever-tighter sanctions on Russia following the invasion.
Kirby previously said the allies would announce new “commitments” to further separate Russia from the global economy and make it harder for Moscow to acquire technology to rebuild the arsenal it has depleted in Ukraine, and to suppress the circumvention of sanctions by Russia and its oligarchs.
G-7 summits have traditionally put global financial issues front and center, but amid soaring inflation in the United States and Europe, little concrete action is expected.
“There are different drivers of inflation in these different economies, different things that can be used to deal with it,” said Josh Lipsky, director of the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center. He foresees “a lack of ability to do anything coordinated on inflation, other than to really talk about the problem.”
Biden attributed much of the price hike to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly in energy markets, as US and allied sanctions have limited Moscow’s ability to sell its energy supplies. oil and gas. Maintaining Western resolve will only become more difficult as the war drags on and cost-of-living issues pose political headaches for national leaders, US and European officials have said.
Finding ways to shift Russian energy to other sources — without backtracking on long-standing climate change goals — should be a key talking point.
“There is no weakening of climate commitments,” Kirby said.
Russia was once a member of what was then the G-8. He was deported in 2014 after invading Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, a move that foreshadowed the current crisis.
A top priority for Western officials heading into the summit is finding a way to get Ukraine’s vast grain harvest to the world market, as the United Nations and others warn dozens of millions of people to be starved due to limited supplies. The most impactful changes would require an agreement from Russia to stop targeting food and food infrastructure, as well as agreement on the establishment of a maritime corridor to allow grain exports from Ukraine.
In Madrid, Biden will help promote NATO efforts to welcome Finland and Sweden into the alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led the two historically neutral democracies to seek the protection of the association from mutual defense.
Kirby declined to say whether Biden will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has indicated he plans to block the two countries from joining NATO unless he secures concessions. Adding new members requires the unanimous support of current NATO members.
US officials maintained optimism that both countries would be welcomed into the alliance, but played down expectations of a breakthrough in Madrid.
Biden often talks about the world in a generational struggle between democracies and autocracies that will set the global agenda for decades to come. He aims to use the trip to show that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has “strengthened” democracies in the face of threats from autocracies in Moscow and Beijing.
The president also ensures an important step for NATO to recognize China as an emerging challenge for the alliance. The formal reference to China in NATO’s new “Strategic Concept”, the first update of its guiding principles since 2010, responds to the efforts of several US presidents to extend the alliance’s attention to China, even in the face of an increasingly belligerent Russia.
In a symbolic step, NATO has invited Pacific leaders from Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia to the summit. Kirby said China “will be an important focus” for the G-7 and cited Beijing’s “coercive economic practices”.
Biden is also set to relaunch a global infrastructure investment program aimed at countering China’s influence in the developing world, which he named “Build Back Better World” and presented at the summit. G-7 of 2021.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused NATO of trying to “trigger a new cold war” and warned against the alliance “drawing ideological lines that could induce confrontation. “.
Superville reported from Telfs, Austria. Associated Press writers Will Weissert and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report.
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