Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, praised the counteroffensive being mounted by Ukraine as he met with President Biden at the White House on Tuesday to discuss the long-term strategy in Ukraine and future leadership for the 31-member military alliance.
“The support that we are now providing together to Ukraine is now making a difference on the battlefield as we speak,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. “The offensive is launched, and Ukrainians are making progress, making advances. It’s still early days, but what we do know is the more land Ukrainians are able to liberate, the stronger hand they will have at the negotiating table.”
The visit comes during a critical time for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as Ukraine tries to regain territory claimed by Russia and as members of the Western alliance prepare for a summit meeting next month in Vilnius, Lithuania. Ahead of that meeting, Mr. Biden and Mr. Stoltenberg said they were focused on ensuring that each NATO ally met the alliance’s threshold of spending 2 percent of its G.D.P. on defense.
“We’ve strengthened NATO’s eastern flank, made it clear we’ll defend every inch of NATO territory,” Mr. Biden said. “At our summit in Lithuania next month, we’re going to be building on that momentum. I’m working to ensure that allies spend enough on their defense, the 2 percent.”
Mr. Stoltenberg also praised Mr. Biden for a new $325 million aid package that was announced on Tuesday for munitions, weapons and equipment for Ukraine. The White House has also in recent weeks faced questions over whom Mr. Biden supports as a successor for 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 about whom to support, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said on Tuesday.
Neither Mr. Biden nor Mr. Stoltenberg took questions during the public portion of their meeting.
“The president believes that whoever is the secretary general of NATO should be an individual who the entire alliance can get behind and lead the alliance into the future, because there’s a transformative future ahead of the alliance,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said on Monday. “Whenever this war ends, however it ends, NATO is going to be different.”
Various nations are jockeying for their own officials to succeed Mr. Stoltenberg. Mr. Biden’s opinion brings 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, Mr. Biden was asked whether it was time for a British official to lead NATO. “That remains to be seen,” Mr. 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 initially scheduled for Monday, but Mr. Biden had to postpone it for a day so he could have a root canal.