'We'll defend every inch of NATO' amid Russia threat, Biden tells eastern European leadersComments
President Joe Biden held talks with leaders from NATO's eastern flank in Warsaw on Wednesday, reassuring them that his administration is keenly aware of the looming threats and other impacts of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Wednesday's meeting comes at the end of Biden's whirlwind four-day visit to Poland and Ukraine and brought together the Bucharest Nine, a collection of nations on the most eastern parts of the NATO alliance that formed in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
As the war in Ukraine drags on, the Bucharest Nine countries’ anxieties have remained heightened. Many worry Putin could move to take military action against them next if he’s successful in Ukraine. The alliance includes Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
“You’re the frontlines of our collective defence,” Biden said Wednesday of the group. “And you know, better than anyone, what’s at stake in this conflict? Not just for Ukraine, but for the freedom of democracies throughout Europe and around the world.”
He pledged that NATO's mutual-defence pact is “sacred” and that “we will defend literally every inch of NATO."
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who was attending the meeting, said, “We don’t know when the war will end, but when it does, we need to ensure that history does not repeat itself."
Pointing to past Russian actions in Georgia and Ukraine, he added, “We cannot allow Russia to continue to chip away at European security. We must break the cycle of Russian aggression.”
"The US needs Poland and NATO"
Biden met Tuesday in Warsaw with Moldovan President Maia Sandu, who last week claimed Moscow was behind a plot to overthrow her country’s government using external saboteurs.
Sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania and one of Europe’s poorest countries, the Eastern European nation has had historic ties to Russia but wants to join the 27-nation European Union. Biden in his remarks endorsed Moldova's bid to join the EU
“I’m proud to stand with you and the freedom-loving people of Moldova,” Biden said of Sandu and her country in his Tuesday address.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago, Moldova, a former Soviet republic of about 2.6 million people, has sought to forge closer ties with its Western partners. Last June, it was granted EU candidate status, the same day as Ukraine.
The White House has praised several eastern flank countries, including Lithuania, Poland and Romania, over the last year for stepping up efforts to back Ukraine with weapons and economic aid and taking in refugees.
Biden has given particular attention to Poland's efforts. The country is hosting about 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees and has
"The truth of the matter is: The United States needs Poland and NATO as much as NATO needs the United States," Biden said during talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda.