Biden to meets Fnnish leader in Helsinki
US President Joe Biden is set to meet with the President of Finland, Sauli Niinisto, on Thursday in Helsinki, following the conclusion of the NATO summit. This meeting comes after G7 powers expressed their commitment to support Ukraine until Russia is defeated.
Finland, the newest member of NATO, shares a significant border of 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) with Russia. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland ended its historic military non-alignment. The discussions between Biden and Niinisto will focus on cooperation between the Nordic countries and the United States regarding security, environmental concerns, and technology.
During the NATO summit, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky’s hopes for a clear timeline to join the military alliance were not met, with NATO leaders stating that the invitation would be extended only when certain conditions are fulfilled. However, the G7 nations later offered Ukraine a comprehensive package of long-term security commitments, assuring Kyiv of their support for as long as it takes to defeat Russia.
In addition to President Niinisto, Biden will also meet with the Prime Minister of Finland, Petteri Orpo, as well as the leaders of other Nordic countries including Sweden’s Ulf Kristersson, Norway’s Jonas Gahr Store, Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen, and Iceland’s Katrin Jakobsdottir.
The visit to Helsinki marks the first time a US president has traveled to the Finnish capital since Donald Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin five years ago.
Meanwhile, Ukraine reported on Thursday that it had successfully destroyed 20 Russian attack drones and two cruise missiles in the latest aerial assault. Most of the drones were neutralized near Kyiv, resulting in one fatality and at least four injuries.
Since the invasion in February 2022, Russia has launched multiple waves of drone and missile strikes across Ukraine. While Ukraine has strengthened its air defense systems with weapons supplied by Western countries, the number of Russian missiles and drones penetrating Ukrainian airspace has significantly decreased. However, Ukraine’s air force spokesperson, Yuriy Ignat, recently stated that the newly acquired systems were still insufficient to provide comprehensive coverage for the entire country. He also confirmed that Ukraine was seeking information about the consequences of a ballistic missile launch by Russia from occupied Crimea.
In their statement on Wednesday, the G7 powers reaffirmed their commitment to a “free, independent, democratic, and sovereign Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.” The G7 plan establishes a framework for individual nations to enter bilateral agreements with Kyiv, outlining the weapons they will provide and their response in the event of escalated aggression from Russia.
President Biden, delivering a speech in Vilnius after meeting with Zelensky at the NATO summit, emphasized the unwavering resolve of the United States and its allies. He stated that Russian President Putin still doubts their collective strength and unity.
Zelensky hailed the promises from Western leaders as a “significant security victory” that he could bring back to Kyiv. However, he expressed his preference for NATO to have agreed upon a firm timetable for Ukraine’s membership in the alliance once the Russian invasion has been repelled and peace restored.
On the sidelines of the NATO summit, Australia announced its commitment to send an additional fleet of 30 armored Bushmaster infantry vehicles to Ukraine, amounting to a cost of US$67 million. However, Australia’s defense minister raised concerns about the proposal to provide retired fighter jets to bolster Ukraine’s military, citing the complexity of Kyiv’s request for additional air power.