Biden talks to central Europe leaders, pledges more ‘military capabilities’

US President Joe Biden holds a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to discuss Russia's military build-up on Ukraine's borders, at the White House in Washington DC, USA, 9 December 2021. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

US President Joe Biden promised central European NATO members “additional military capabilities” on Thursday (9 December) and pledged to involve them in decisions about the region, Lithuania’s presidential advisor said.

Biden reassured the allies nothing will be agreed with Russia about the region behind the backs of its countries, Lithuanian president’s adviser Asta Skaisgiryte told reporters.

“Biden said, ‘nothing about you without you'”, said Skaisgiryte.

In Washington, a senior Biden administration official said Biden also reiterated the US commitment to the Article 5 collective defense provision of the NATO charter, which says an armed attack against one member shall be considered an attack on them all.

Biden also spoke to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and “made clear that the United States and its allies and partners are committed to the principle of ‘no decisions or discussions about Ukraine without Ukraine,'” the White House said.

Ahead of Biden-Putin talks, Ukraine warns against Yalta-type agreement

Ukraine rejects any efforts to get it to scrap its plans to join NATO as well as any “guarantee” sought by Russia to ease tensions on the border, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Friday (3 December).

Biden’s phone call with the NATO’s eastern leaders followed his promise of high-level meetings with Russia and major NATO allies to discuss Moscow’s concerns and the possibility of “bringing down the temperature along the eastern front.”

The senior administration official said the United States is prepared to discuss security issues with Moscow but that Biden made no concessions in his phone meeting on Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biden talked to leaders of Central European NATO countries along the alliance’s border with Russia, Belarus and Ukraine – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria (the ‘Bucharest 9).

“He said additional reassurance elements are possible in these countries, and additional military capabilities”, without naming possible locations, Skaisgiryte said.

“Questions of European security need to be discussed with all members of NATO and countries outside of the alliance have no veto power over NATO’s decision”, Estonian president Alar Karis tweeted after the call.

Biden said Ukraine is “a sovereign country which must decide its own future”, and warned Russian president Vladimir Putin of “very serious consequences, coordinated with the European partners” if Russia invades Ukraine, said Skaisgiryte.

Russia kept up a barrage of hostile rhetoric towards Ukraine on Thursday and compared the crisis there to the most dangerous moment of the Cold War as it waited for Biden to invite it to possible talks with NATO countries.

Lithuanian president Gitanas Nauseda told Biden permanent US troops deployment in his country would be “most effective” for deterrence and security in the region.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe