Chris Lange, FISM News
Countries representing more than half of the world’s gross domestic product will meet today to discuss continued deterrence efforts in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.
President Biden arrived in Brussels, Belgium late Wednesday ahead of today’s emergency NATO summit. The high-stakes meeting is expected to produce additional sanctions against the Kremlin and more promises to provide humanitarian and defensive aid to Ukraine.
Ahead of his departure on Wednesday, Biden was met by reporters on the White House lawn where he was asked if Russia’s potential use of chemical weapons against Ukraine was a threat.
“I think it’s a real threat,” Biden said.
The president will also attend a scheduled summit of the European Union today. The group’s 27 nations signed off on another $550 million in military aid for Ukraine on Wednesday.
Growing concerns about possible chemical warfare and alarm over the Kremlin’s repeated threats of nuclear conflict has also prompted an emergency meeting of the G7 advanced economies today, bringing Japan into the discussion with six NATO members.
‘Putin has made a big mistake’
Ahead of the talks, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters the alliance had already stepped up military support, but must do more to follow through with pledged commitments.
NATO has increased its presence on its eastern borders, where roughly 40,000 troops are currently stationed at various points from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Today, the alliance is expected to announce deployments of four additional combat units in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.
“The meeting today will demonstrate the importance of North America and Europe standing together facing this crisis. President Putin has made a big mistake,” Stoltenberg said, calling the war on Ukraine the “most serious security crisis in a generation.”
But while Western leaders promised to increase support for Ukraine, European diplomats have downplayed expectations of any major new sanctions on Russia, and Stoltenberg reiterated that the alliance will not send any troops or planes into Ukraine.
Zelenskyy: today will show ‘who is our friend’ and ‘who betrayed us’’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in perhaps his harshest message to Western leaders to date, called on those gathering for the summitry today to take “serious steps” to help Ukraine defend itself. In his nightly video message Wednesday, the Ukrainian leader doubled down on his repeated calls for Western allies to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine and criticized their refusal to provide his forces with warplanes, modern anti-missile systems, anti-ship weapons, or tanks.
Speaking in English, Zelenskyy issued a strong challenge to the West.
“At these three summits we will see who is our friend, who is our partner and who sold us out and betrayed us,” the Ukrainian president said.
President Zelenskyy makes an address every evening.
Tonight, for the first time, he did it in English, to ask the world for one simple thing;
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) March 23, 2022
European leaders struggle to cut ties to Russian energy
Russia has been shut off from global commerce on a large scale but continues to profit from its energy exports. Several EU members have resisted calls to place bans on Russian oil and gas, on which they remain heavily dependent. Today, leaders are expected to discuss joint purchases of gas in an effort to begin the complicated process of extricating themselves from Russian energy dependency and mitigate potential supply shortages.
Brussels has asked the U.S. to provide them with additional American liquified natural gas supplies for the next two winters – a problematic request considering that Biden continues to refuse to ramp up domestic oil production, despite repeated calls to do so.
Ahead of today’s summits, Ukraine officials urged leaders to stop their “dependency on Russian dirty bloody oil and gas.”
— MFA of Ukraine 🇺🇦 (@MFA_Ukraine) March 24, 2022