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Biden commits to more US forces in Europe as NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join

Eli Stokols, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

The U.S. also will send two additional F-35 fighter squadrons to Britain and bolster “air defense and other capabilities” in Germany and Italy, Biden said.

Those announcements from Biden came less than 24 hours after he said during a meeting Tuesday with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez that the U.S. would base two additional destroyers at its naval base in Rota, Spain.

The U.S. currently has about 100,000 troops stationed in Europe, reflecting an increase of about 20,000 since Russia attacked Ukraine. Biden called the new commitments a response “to the changing security environment, as well as strengthening our collective security.”

U.S. officials stressed that the reinforcements would not violate a 1997 NATO agreement with Russia that prohibits combat troops in Eastern Europe because the new combat deployments will be rotational, not permanent. “There has been no communication with Moscow about these changes, nor is there a requirement to do that,” said John Kirby, a spokesman for Biden’s National Security Council.

This NATO summit, which comes just months after an emergency gathering Biden convened at the organization’s Brussels headquarters, reflects just how dramatically Putin’s actions have changed security calculations across Europe. Stoltenberg said the war in Ukraine amounts to “the most serious security crisis we have faced since the Second World War.”


Alliance leaders meeting Wednesday and Thursday on the outskirts of Madrid are set to adopt a new strategic concept for the next 10 years — NATO’s first such update in more than a decade — that envisages additional battle groups in the east and a commitment by member nations, after years of foot-dragging, to devote more revenues to defense.

The concept is also likely to address the challenge posed by an increasingly powerful China. To that end, the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand have been invited for the first time to attend a NATO summit as guests.

At the start of an afternoon meeting attended by roughly three dozen world leaders, Stoltenberg was blunt in categorizing China as another adversarial state. “China does not share our values, and like Russia it seeks to undermine the international rules-based order,” he said.

Between NATO sessions, Biden met with the leaders of Japan and South Korea, calling the cooperation between the three countries “essential.”

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