Biden calls for NATO allies to step up defence production

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US President said that the alliance has provided a security shield for member countries to grow and prosper…reports Asian Lite News

President Joe Biden on Wednesday said that the way forward for the NATO alliance is for each member country to strengthen their industrial base so that the group can stay ahead of Russia, which has “ramped up domestic production of defence goods with help from China, Iran, and North Korea”.

Thirty-two leaders of NATO countries, who include leaders of Finland and Sweden, the two new additions, are meeting here in Washington DC for the group’s 75th anniversary, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine bringing back memories of World War II that was started in Europe by a man’s desire to expand his country’s frontiers driven by historical grievances.

Speaking cogently and forcefully, perhaps to allay fears of allies who doubt his ability to govern for four more years if he wins, the US President said that the alliance has provided a security shield for member countries to grow and prosper. At a summit two years ago, allies decided to modernise their defence and deterrence. But the alliance is now facing fresh challenges.

“Right now, Russia is on a wartime footing with regard to defence production. They are significantly ramping up their production of weapons, munitions, and vehicles. And they’re doing it with the help of China, North Korea and Iran,” he said, adding “We cannot in my view, we cannot allow the (NATO) alliance to fall behind.”

To that end, he noted, that every member has taken a pledge to put together plans to shore up defence production at home. “That means as an alliance (we) will become more innovative and competitive. We’re able to produce more critical defence equipment more quickly than we should so that we may need it,” Biden asserted.

NATO vows ‘irreversible path’ to Ukraine membership

Kyiv has not been offered a formal invitation to join the alliance, as there is no consensus among allies for such an endeavour.

NATO’s reassuring language that Ukraine’s path to membership of the alliance is “irreversible” represents a step forward, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Stefanishyna said.

It’s a “very strong message on membership,” she told Euronews.

Moreover, it’s a clear signal to Russia about Ukraine’s future, she said.

Several experts say membership is the only guarantee of Ukrainian security, particularly because the majority of Ukrainian territory would be covered by Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which ensures that an attack on one ally is responded to as if it were an attack on all allies.

“It’s not enough to say that NATO’s future is in NATO,” says former US ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder.

“Russia will not give up its goal of controlling Ukraine unless and until Ukraine is integrated in the Western institutions – NATO and the European Union,” he said.

“It’s a wasted opportunity not to offer membership to Ukraine,” said Ed Arnold, Senior Research Fellow for European Security at the Royal United Service Institute (RUSI).

“We don’t have time; anyone can reverse the course of Ukraine’s path because the language at this summit is not legally binding,” he said.

“Trump can reverse it if he comes to power. And we know how Trump dislikes other people’s deals, not to mention the fact that Trump has a bad history with Zelenskyy.”

As US president, Donald Trump attempted to blackmail Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by withholding US military support for Ukraine unless he created a bogus investigation into corruption by Hunter Biden – the son of Joe Biden. The matter led to Trump’s impeachment after whistleblowers revealed the affair.

Zelenskyy and his team, including Deputy PM Stefanishyna, are in Washington for the 75th anniversary of NATO.

NATO allies significantly stepped up their contributions to Ukraine as part of this week’s summit, including dozens of defence systems and a timeline for the delivery of F-16 fighter jets.

“All of the announcements on air defences and Patriot systems are important, but they won’t move the dial for Ukrainian security — not like NATO membership would,” said Arnold.

Part of the concern among some countries in hesitating to support Ukrainian membership is the clear liability and risk that would emerge for allies in admitting a country in the middle of an intense armed conflict. 

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the NATO Summit in Washington.

However, Ambassador Daalder says that only the undisputed parts of Ukraine would be covered under Article 5 guarantees.

Occupied areas such as Crimea, the Donbas and parts of Ukraine’s east would not be covered. But Kyiv and the rest would be, which would, in theory, go some way in deterring Russia from attacks such as the one this week on the hospitals, including one children’s hospital.

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