President Joe Biden arrived at the NATO summit in Madrid on Wednesday morning and promised to send two F-35 squadrons to the U.K. and two destroyers to Spain as he strengthens U.S. forces in Europe against the threat from Vladimir Putin of Russia.
He made his announcement on the first day of a summit that began on a positive note, with Turkey dropping its objections to Finland and Sweden joining the alliance.
‘We’re sending an unmistakable message in my view, and I think yours as well,’ he told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, ‘that NATO is strong, united and the steps we’re taking during this summit will kind of further augment our collective strengths.
‘To that end, today I’m announcing the United States will enhance our force posture in Europe and respond to the changing security environment as well as strengthening our collective security.’
After already sending an extra 20,000 troops to Europe – bringing the total to 100,000 – he announced two more squadrons of F-35 warplanes would be sent to the U.K. and the number of destroyers based in Spain would increase from four to six.
Additional air defense systems will be sent to Germany and Italy, he said.
And the U.S. will set up up a permanent military base in Poland.
The F-35 is the U.S. Air Force’s most advanced warplane, with air superiority and ground attack capabilities.
President Joe Biden meets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the start of the NATO summit in Madrid
Biden announced he was sending more U.S. forces to Europe as NATO allies gathered to promise full-throated support for Ukraine against Vladimir Putin’s Russia
The surge will include two squadrons of F-35 warplanes being sent to the United Kingdom
Biden also said he was increasing the number of US Navy destroyers stationed at US Naval Station, Spain, from four to six, as he steps up forces deployed in Europe
Biden waved as his motorcade made its way through Madrid to the summit site
‘We’re going to make sure that NATO is ready to meet the threats from all directions across every domain – land, air and the sea,’ said Biden.
‘At a moment when Putin has shattered peace in Europe and attacked the very, very tenets of rule based order. The United States and are allies are going to step up.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has given new purpose to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation after failures in Afghanistan and divisions when Donald Trump was in the White House.
Stoltenberg said the alliance was meeting ‘in the midst of the most serious security crisis we have faced since the Second World War.’
But British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Putin’s hopes of dividing NATO with his invasion of Ukraine had been dashed.
Putin was getting ‘more NATO’ not less, said Johnson as he arrived at the summit.
American and European officials had been hoping for progress on expansion during the two-day summit in Madrid.
Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in May, alarmed at Russia’s aggression in the region.
Biden was greeted by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said the alliance was meeting in the ‘most serious security crisis we have faced since the Second World War’
But Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he could not support their applications. Turkey has long accused the two countries of harboring members of the separatist militant Kurdistan’s Workers Party, which Turkey has designated as a terrorist group.
On Tuesday, details of a breakthrough emerged. Turkey was happy with moves made by Finland and Sweden, said officials.
Stoltenberg hailed the deal by saying: ‘We now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO.’
White House officials said the U.S. was not directly involved in the negotiations.
However, Biden spoke with Erdogan on Tuesday as part of an effort to remove roadblocks from Sweden and Finland.
Biden spoke to Erdogan again on Wednesday as they both arrived at the summit and are due to hold a meeting later in the day.
Meanwhile, leader after leader said they wanted to send a clear message to Moscow.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, the summit’s host, said Russia would be named the alliance’s ‘main threat’ in its new strategic concept. The last such document, published in 2010, characterised Russia as a strategic partner.
‘We are sending a strong message to Putin: You will not win,’ he said.
Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, said NATO would supply arms to Ukraine for as long as necessary.
‘Russia has with its brutal war of aggression violated the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine,’ he said.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to launch NATO applications
If the nations are accepted into the alliance they will bring with them almost 1million troops, including reserves, along with a huge amount of artillery, jets and submarines