Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, praised Ukraine’s organized counteroffensive as he met with President Biden at the White House on Tuesday to discuss long-term strategy in Ukraine and future leadership for the 31-member military alliance.
“The support we are now providing together with Ukraine is now making a difference on the battlefield as we speak,” Stoltenberg said. “The offensive has been launched and the Ukrainians are making progress, advancing. It’s still early days, but what we know is that the more land the Ukrainians are able to free up, the more strength they will have at the negotiating table. »
The visit comes at a critical time for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as Ukraine seeks to retake territory claimed by Russia and as members of the Western alliance prepare for a summit meeting next month in Vilnius, in Lithuania. Prior to that meeting, Biden and Stoltenberg said they are focused on making sure every NATO ally meets the alliance threshold of spending 2% of its GDP on defense.
“We have strengthened NATO’s eastern flank, made it clear that we will defend every inch of NATO territory,” Biden said. “At our summit in Lithuania next month, we will build on this momentum. I’m working to ensure allies spend enough on their defense, 2 percent. »
Mr. Stoltenberg also praised Mr. Biden for a new $325 million aid package announced Tuesday for munitions, weapons and equipment for Ukraine. The White House has also in recent weeks grappled with questions about who Mr. Biden supports as the successor to Mr. Stoltenberg, who has led the alliance since 2014 and is expected to step down in September. Mr. Biden has not yet made a decision on who to support, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday.
Neither Mr. Biden nor Mr. Stoltenberg answered any questions during the public portion of their meeting.
« The president believes whoever NATO secretary general is should be an individual that the entire alliance can support and lead the alliance into the future, because there is a transformative future ahead of the alliance, » John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, it said on Monday. « Whenever this war ends, however it ends, NATO will be different. »
Various nations are arranging for their own officials to succeed Mr. Stoltenberg. Biden’s opinion carries considerable weight because the United States spends more than any other member of the alliance on defense.
While the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, was visiting Washington last week, Biden was asked if the time had come for a British official to lead NATO. “That remains to be seen,” Biden said.
Mr. Biden also recently met with Mette Frederiksen, the prime minister of Denmark and another potential contender for the position.
The meeting with Mr. Stoltenberg was originally scheduled for Monday, but Mr. Biden had to postpone it a day in order to undergo a root canal.