'Ukraine can and will stop Vladimir Putin': Joe Biden tells NATO as he announces 'historic' aid for Kiev

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden reaffirmed “full support” for Ukraine and expressed confidence that the country “can and will deter” Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression as he welcomed NATO member-countries to a Washington summit on Tuesday. This came after Biden, 81, faced 12 days of sharp questioning by his fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill about his qualifications for the post following his dismal debate performance against former President Donald Trump on June 27.

He said in his welcoming speech to NATO member countries at the summit In Europe, Putin's aggressive war against Ukraine continues, and Putin wants nothing less than the total subjugation of Ukraine… and the wiping of Ukraine off the map. But make no mistake, Ukraine can and will stop Putin. Especially with our full collective support. And he has our full support.

He also announced a “historic” donation of air defense equipment to Ukraine. “The United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and Italy will provide Ukraine with equipment for five additional tactical air defense systems. And in the coming months, the United States and our partners intend to provide Ukraine with dozens of additional tactical air defense systems. The United States will ensure that Ukraine will be at the front of the line when we export critical air defense interceptors,” he said.

Don't wait for November to help Ukraine: Zelensky Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged US political leaders in Washington not to wait for the result of the upcoming November elections to assist his country against Russian aggression. “It's time to get out of the shadows, make strong decisions… take action and not wait for November or any other month,” he said at the Ronald Reagan Institute on the eve of the NATO summit.

He added that he cannot predict Trump's actions if he becomes US president again in November. Zelensky expressed hope that Trump will not leave the 75-year-old NATO alliance and that the US will continue to support Ukraine in its defense against Russia's more than two-year-old invasion. “I don't know him very well,” he said of Trump, adding that he had “good meetings” with him during Trump's first presidency, but added that this was before Russia's 2022 invasion.

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for November's US presidential election, has frequently criticised the size of US military aid to Ukraine – about $60 billion since Russia's full-scale invasion in 2022 – and called Zelensky “the greatest salesman ever” during a presidential debate on June 27. Two of his national security advisers have presented Trump with a plan to end US military aid to Ukraine unless it begins talks with Russia to end the conflict.

The Ukrainian president said his country needs at least seven Patriot systems, a goal reached by the new deliveries announced Tuesday. “We are fighting for additional security guarantees for Ukraine — and these are weapons and finance, political support,” he said on social media.

Meanwhile, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said NATO would in the coming days announce a new military command in Germany, led by a three-star general, that will train and equip Ukrainian troops, and appoint a senior representative in Kyiv to deepen Ukraine's ties with the alliance.

Biden and Zelensky are scheduled to meet in November. Biden’s post-debate debacle The White House hopes he can cap off a difficult period of his presidency with his most high-profile policy speech since the debate, though some diplomats at the summit said the damage is hard to erase. On Tuesday, Biden spoke from a teleprompter in a strong and confident voice and largely avoided the verbal glitches and signs of confusion that characterized his debate performance.

Presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the US, to outgoing NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, he said, “Today NATO is stronger, more intelligent and more energetic. And a billion people in Europe and North America, indeed the entire world, will reap the rewards of your labour in the form of security, opportunity and greater freedom in the years to come.”

The US president has been attacked by his own party colleagues after his poor performance in the debate against his Republican rival Donald Trump in Atlanta on June 27, but on Monday he took a defiant approach in the Capitol halls, dismissing concerns from fellow Democrats and donors that his persistence could cost the party the White House and Congress in the upcoming election.

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