US President Joe Biden will begin a four-day tour of Europe this Sunday that will include the NATO summit in Lithuania, visits to the United Kingdom and Finland, as well as endless meetings with leaders from around the world.
However, the person who will monopolize Biden’s attention will be someone else: his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to whom he wants to make it clear that the United States is back and that its alliances – especially with Ukraine – are stronger than ever.
This was explained in a press conference prior to the trip by the White House National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, who defined the European tour as an opportunity to demonstrate that the US has recovered its “global status as a solid partner and reliable for peace, progress and security”.
“This trip will reflect that we have made progress and will serve to demonstrate the leadership of the president in the international arena,” Sullivan stressed.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began in February 2022 will be the main item on the agenda, at a time when Kiev is demanding greater security guarantees from NATO against Russia and after Putin had to deal with the failed rebellion of the Wagner paramilitary group.
Biden’s tour will take place between July 9 and 13 and will begin in London, from where he will go to Vilnius to participate in the NATO leaders’ summit and end in Helsinki, in a historic stop to demonstrate Washington’s commitment to the new member of the atlantic alliance.
Biden’s agenda in London will begin on the morning of Monday, July 10, with a meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
It will be the fifth meeting between Biden and Sunak, who have met at numerous international summits in recent months, and whose objective will be to address some of the central issues of the NATO summit in Lithuania, detailed Amanda Sloat, the Biden’s top adviser for Europe.
Specifically on the table will be Ukraine’s requests to join NATO and the progress of the counteroffensive that Kiev launched at the beginning of June to recover the areas occupied by Russia, Sloat added.
After the meeting with Sunak, Biden will meet King Charles III at Windsor Castle, in what will be the first meeting between the two since the monarch was crowned in May of this year.
The last time the US president and the then-Prince of Wales saw each other was in November 2021 during the COP26 climate summit held in the Scottish city of Glasgow.
After spending the day in London, on the 10th, Biden will head to the Lithuanian city of Vilnius to participate in the NATO leaders’ summit, which will take place on Tuesday, July 11 and Wednesday, July 12.
As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on Friday, the members will agree at their summit on various measures to “bring Ukraine closer” to the Atlantic Alliance, but they will not propose its entry.
Specifically, NATO leaders will approve a new military assistance package that helps Ukrainian forces acquire more modern equipment and will create a new forum for consultations with Ukraine called the NATO-Ukraine Council, in an attempt to enhance political ties with Ukraine. Kiev.
The most difficult thing is being to unify positions within NATO to reflect the commitment to the eventual entry of Ukraine, but without leaving empty promises.
According to military alliance sources, the idea is that the language of the final summit communiqué would be an advance on that used at the 2008 Bucharest summit, when the allies said both Ukraine and Georgia would become members of NATO, but without specifying a timetable for it.
The final touch to the NATO summit will be put by Biden with what the White House has defined as a “great speech” on the defense of democracy and the West’s support for Ukraine.
On the same night of July 12, Biden will travel to Finland to meet the next day with the leaders of the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark).
This will be the third summit between the US and the leaders of the Nordic countries. The most recent occurred in 2016 when then-President Barack Obama (2008-2017) received the rulers of those nations at the White House, Sloan explained.
Finland became NATO’s 31st full member in April this year after completing the membership process requested in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Sweden made the request at the same time as Finland, but its application has been blocked by Turkey and Hungary.