The United States will boost its military forces across Europe — sending more troops, planes and ships —because of threats from Moscow following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Joe Biden said as NATO leaders hold their annual summit in Madrid.
The US president said Washington is establishing a permanent headquarters in Poland, sending two additional F-35 fighter jet squadrons to the UK and will send more “air defence and other capabilities” to Germany and Italy.
The number of destroyers in Spain will be increased to six from four, and the US is also beefing up its military assets in Romania and the Baltic region, he added.
Moscow has responded by saying it is not "intimidated" by Biden's announcement.
Joe Biden spoke shortly before his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the gathering by video link. Ukraine's leader again called for more weapons, scolded NATO for not doing enough to protect his country, and warned that Russia's ambitions did not stop at Ukraine.
US responding to 'changing security environment'
Joe Biden gave details of the boost to US forces in Europe as he met with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in the Spanish capital.
It followed his announcement on Tuesday that the US would base its two additional destroyers at its naval base at Rota in Spain. The United States provides the bulk of NATO’s military power.
"NATO is strong and united, and the steps we’re taking during this summit, we’re going to further augment our collective strength," he said. “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.”
The US president lined up alongside Stoltenberg and 29 other national leaders for a photo at the highly anticipated summit of the military alliance.
Norway also announced on Wednesday that it was sending three MLRS long-range rocket launcher batteries to Ukraine. On Tuesday, the German and Dutch defence ministers announced the delivery of six additional howitzers.
Moscow called NATO's latest moves "destabilising", saying they would not increase security.
"Those who propose such decisions have the illusion that Russia can be intimidated, somehow contained: they will not succeed," said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.
Russia's war a battle for 'future world order' — Zelenskyy
The 30 NATO leaders heard directly from President Zelenskyy, who chided the alliance for not supporting his embattled country more fully.
“Hasn’t Ukraine paid enough? Hasn’t our contribution to defending Europe and the entire civilization been sufficient?” he said.
Zelenskyy asked for more modern artillery systems and other weapons and warned the leaders that they either had to provide Ukraine with the help it needed to defeat Russia or “face a delayed war between Russia and yourself”.
He put the monthly cost of defending Ukraine against Russia's invasion at about $5 billion (€4.75 billion).
"This is not a war being waged by Russia against only Ukraine. This is a war for the right to dictate conditions in Europe - for what the future world order will be like," the Ukrainian leader added.
'Biggest NATO overhaul since Cold War', says Stoltenberg
Speaking at the start of the summit, Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged the alliance is “in the midst of the most serious security crisis we have faced since the Second World War”. The NATO chief added that the alliance was undertaking “the biggest overhaul of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War”.
On Monday, the secretary general announced a massive increase in NATO's rapid reaction troops from 40,000 to 300,000, in a major reinforcement of the alliance's eastern flank.
Then, on Tuesday, Turkey agreed to lift its opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has driven NATO to pour troops and weapons into eastern Europe on a scale not seen since the Cold War.
Members of the alliance have also sent billions in military and civilian aid to Ukraine.
More casualties as Russia's war continues
As NATO leaders met in Madrid, there was no let-up in Russia's offensive in Ukraine.
Russian forces struck at targets in the Mykolaiv area of southern Ukraine on Wednesday. The mayor said a Russian missile strike killed at least three people in a residential building, while Moscow said its forces had hit what it called a training base for foreign mercenaries.
In the east, the governor of Luhansk province said there was "fighting everywhere" in the battle around Lysychansk, which Russian troops were trying to encircle.
Britain's defence minister Ben Wallace told a think tank conference in London on Tuesday that there is a risk Russia “will lash out against wider Europe” and “it is time to mobilise, be ready and be relevant”.