Biden and NATO members are poised to unveil new aid to Ukraine at the summit

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NATO leaders pose for a photo on July 9, 2024 in Washington | Photo credit: AP

US President Joe Biden and leaders of other NATO member states are poised to unveil new aid for war-ravaged Ukraine as they gather for their annual summit in Washington on July 10.

The 81-year-old Biden, who has faced 13 days of questions about his fitness for office after squandering a June 27 debate, hopes the international event will help him stage a comeback of sorts surrounded by allied leaders. He spent the three years in office cultivating.

After calling the 32-member collective security alliance “stronger than ever” in a powerful speech on Tuesday, Mr Biden and other NATO leaders are now turning to their difficult work.

Their agenda is guided by the more than two-year standoff between the West and Russia over Ukraine.

But the summit also gives leaders a chance to tackle other tough security issues, including the war between Israel and Gaza and deepening ties between Russia, Iran, China and North Korea.

The US elections in November could portend a sharp change in Washington’s support for Ukraine and NATO. Republican candidate Donald Trump, 78, has questioned the amount of aid given to Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion, as well as US support for allies in general.

On the sidelines of the summit, Biden is expected to meet British Prime Minister Keir Starmer for their first face-to-face talks since his Labor Party won a landslide election victory that ended 14 years of Conservative rule. The countries are important transatlantic allies.

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Mr Biden will also host a dinner for NATO’s heads of state and government, an event that would not normally attract attention but has come into focus amid concerns over whether Mr Biden will meet the demands for another four years of the presidency can meet.

A long war?

A senior NATO official said this week that Russia does not have the ammunition and troops to launch a major offensive in Ukraine, but that it could sustain its war economy for another three to four years. Ukraine also has not yet amassed the ammunition and personnel it needs to mount its own large-scale offensive operations, the official said.

Hoping to change the course of the long-running conflict, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wants the alliance to send more weapons and money and provide security guarantees. On Wednesday, he will meet Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Trump ally, at the Capitol.

Mr Zelenskyy is attending parts of the NATO summit as a guest, but Ukraine ultimately wants to join the group to fend off further future attacks from Russia.

That won’t happen anytime soon. Candidates must be approved by all members of the alliance, some of whom are wary of provoking direct conflict with Russia.

Still, some members want the alliance to make it clear that Ukraine is moving “irreversibly” toward NATO and want to go further in a summit statement than the alliance’s promise last year that “Ukraine’s future lies in NATO.”

NATO members have already announced the delivery of five additional Patriot and other strategic air defense systems to help Ukraine. More aid announcements were expected at the summit, which marks the alliance’s 75th anniversary.

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