Europe

US boosting forces in Europe over Russian threat, Biden tells NATO

The United States will boost its military forces in Europe 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.

“NATO is strong and united, and the steps we’re taking during this summit, we’re going to further augment our collective strength,” Biden said at a meeting on Wednesday with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in the Spanish capital.

“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 president added.

Biden announced 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.

The president lined up alongside Stoltenberg and 29 other national leaders for a photo at the highly anticipated summit of the military alliance.

On Monday, Stoltenberg 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. The 30 NATO leaders will hear directly from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is likely to ask them to do even more when he addresses the gathering by video link.

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”.

As NATO leaders met in Madrid, Russian forces did not let up as their offensive continued 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.

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