NATO Leaders Gather for Madrid Summit

NATO leaders are gathering in Madrid, Spain, for a summit that will include discussion of support for Ukraine and how the alliance will adapt to face current and future challenges.

The leaders are expected to agree to boost support for Ukraine as it defends itself from a Russian invasion. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is addressing the summit by video.

U.S. President Joe Biden said that at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin “has shattered peace in Europe and attacked the very tenets of rule-based order,” the United States and its allies are “proving that NATO is more needed now than it ever has been, and it’s as important as it ever has been.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters the gathering will be a “historic and transformative summit for our alliance,” adding that it comes amid “the most serious security crisis we have faced since the second world war.”

Russia’s attack is also influencing NATO’s own long-term plans, with a new strategic concept that includes what the alliance has called its “changed security environment.” The guiding agreement will also address other challenges, including China.

In the short term, NATO is strengthening its readiness to respond to outside threats, including boosting the number of troops under direct NATO command and pre-positioning more heavy weapons and logistical resources.

“Today, I’m announcing the United States will enhance our force posture in Europe to respond to the changed security environment, as well as strengthening our collective security,” Biden said. “Earlier this year, we surged 20,000 additional U.S. forces to Europe to bolster our lines in response to Russia’s aggressive move, bringing our force total in Europe to 100,000. We’re gonna continue to adjust our posture based on the threat in close consultation with our allies.”

Biden said the United States is sending additional naval destroyers to be stationed in Spain, establishing a permanent headquarters for the U.S. 5th Army Corps in Poland, adding a rotational brigade of 3,000 troops and 2,000 other personnel to be headquartered in Romania, and sending two additional F-35 fighter jets to the United Kingdom.

As NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, the summit is also set to include talks about reinforcing partnerships with non-NATO countries. Participating in the summit are leaders from Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

“President Putin has not succeeded in closing NATO’s door,” Stoltenberg said. “He’s getting the opposite of what he wants. He wants less NATO. President Putin is getting more NATO by Sweden and Finland joining our alliance.”

Other areas of discussion include terrorism, cyberattacks and climate change.

VOA White House correspondent Anita Powell contributed to this story.

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