Biden to hold meeting with finnish leader following NATO summit
In the aftermath of the NATO summit where G7 powers pledged unwavering support to Ukraine against Russian aggression, US President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with Sauli Niinisto, the President of Finland, on Thursday. Finland, which shares a border of 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) with Russia, became NATO’s newest member after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted the country to end its historical military non-alignment.
While NATO leaders did not provide a clear timeline for Ukraine’s membership in the military alliance, they assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that an invitation would be extended when certain conditions were met. In response, the G7 nations offered Ukraine a comprehensive package of long-term security commitments, promising to stand by Kyiv until Russia’s aggression is defeated.
During his visit, President Biden will engage in discussions with the leaders of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, focusing on cooperation between the Nordic countries and the United States in areas such as security, environmental issues, and technology.
This visit marks a significant moment as Biden becomes the first US president to visit Helsinki since Donald Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin five years ago. The timing of the meeting carries particular significance amid ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
On Thursday, Ukraine reported destroying 20 Russian attack drones and two cruise missiles in the latest aerial assault on the country. Most of the drones were neutralized in the vicinity of Kyiv, resulting in one fatality and at least four injuries, according to the city’s mayor.
Since the invasion in February 2022, Russia has launched numerous drone and missile strikes against Ukraine. The Ukrainian military has reinforced its air defense systems with Western-supplied weapons, leading to a decrease in the number of Russian missiles and drones breaching their defenses. However, Ukraine’s air force spokesperson, Yuriy Ignat, highlighted that the newly acquired systems were still inadequate to cover the entire country, admitting a lack of means to destroy ballistic missiles.
The G7 powers, in their statement issued on Wednesday, expressed their commitment to supporting a free, independent, democratic, and sovereign Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. The G7 plan outlines a framework for individual nations to establish bilateral agreements with Kyiv, specifying the nature of weapons support and the response strategy in the face of escalated Russian aggression.
In a speech delivered in Vilnius, President Biden reiterated the determination of the United States and its allies, stating, “We will not waver.” He emphasized the importance of demonstrating resolve to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who continues to underestimate the unity and resolve among the United States, its allies, and partners.
While President Zelensky viewed the promises made by Western leaders as a significant security victory, he expressed a preference for NATO to establish a definite timetable for Ukraine’s accession to the alliance once peace is restored following the Russian invasion.
During the NATO summit, Australia pledged to send an additional fleet of 30 armored Bushmaster infantry vehicles, amounting to a cost of $67 million, to support Ukraine. However, Australia’s defense minister has cast doubt on the proposal to provide retired fighter jets to Ukraine, citing the complexities associated with Kyiv’s request for additional air power.