Biden says NATO has "never been more united" amid Ukraine crisis

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Biden touts European unity at historic NATO summit

President Biden said Thursday at a press conference in Brussels that NATO is united amid the conflict in Ukraine. 

Russian President Vladimir "Putin was banking on NATO being split," Mr. Biden said in the whirlwind press conference. "NATO has never, never been more united than it is today." 

Mr. Biden also said he supported expelling Russia from the G20, the group of the 20 biggest economies in the world, but conceded "that depends on the G20."

Mr. Biden's comments came only hours after an emotional plea by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who told NATO leaders that if there isn't more invention from Europe, the Russian invasion will spread to Poland, a NATO country. Zelenskyy asked that the alliance provide "effective and unrestricted" support to Ukraine, including any weapons the country needs to fend off the Russian onslaught.

Mr. Biden responded Thursday by announcing the U.S. will send $1 billion in humanitarian aid, on top of the $2 billion in aid his administration has provided since he came into office. Mr. Biden also said the U.S. would welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians to help alleviate the refugee crisis in Europe.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference in the framework of a European Union leaders summit amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium March 24, 2022. EVELYN HOCKSTEIN / REUTERS

European Union nations, meanwhile, on the eve of meeting with Mr. Biden, pledged another $550 million in military aid for Ukraine. 

NATO allies have agreed to provide cybersecurity assistance and equipment to help protect Ukraine against biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear threats, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday. But he reiterated that NATO will not put boots on the ground in Ukraine. 

"We have a responsibility to prevent this conflict from becoming a full-fledged war in Europe involving not only Ukraine and Russia but NATO allies and Russia," Stoltenberg said. "That would be more dangerous and more devastating."

Special Report: Biden says NATO is united at Brussels press conference

Four new NATO battlegroups are deploying to Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria — Mr. Biden said in a statement that their deployment "is a strong signal that we will collectively defend and protect every inch of NATO territory." He added that by the time NATO leaders meet for their next summit in June, "we will develop plans for additional forces and capabilities to strengthen NATO's defenses," in order to ensure NATO is prepared for "any challenge" in what is a "new and more dangerous security environment."

The gathering of NATO allies was taking place soon after the State Department formally assessed that Russia has committed war crimes against Ukraine, and as Russian forces struggle to make military progress, defying initial expectations of a swift conquest of the country. Russia has been hammering southern Ukraine with air and artillery strikes, trying to seize a swath of ground to create a land corridor between the occupied Crimean Peninsula and Russian territory.  

 

"Sanctions never deter," Biden says, contradicting prior administration stance

President Biden claimed that sanctions "never deter," when CBS News correspondent Christina Ruffini asked the president why he believes his actions today will stop Putin when previous sanctions have not. 

"I did not say that in fact the sanctions would deter him. Sanctions never deter. You keep talking about that. Sanctions never deter," the president said. 

But the Biden administration repeatedly called sanctions a deterrence tool before Putin's invasion of Ukraine. 

"The president believes that sanctions are intended to deter. And in order for them to work — to deter, they have to be set up in a way where if Putin moves, then the costs are imposed," national security adviser Jake Sullivan said from the White House briefing room on February 11

"The purpose of the sanctions in the first instance is to try to deter Russia from going to war," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on CNN on February 20. "As soon as you trigger them, that deterrent is gone. And until the last minute, as long as we can try to bring a deterrent effect to this, we're going to try to do that."

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden says it's up to Ukraine to decide if they need to cede some territory to Russia

Asked if Ukraine will need to give up any territory to Russia in other to get a ceasefire, Mr. Biden left that up to Ukraine. 

"That is a total judgment based on Ukraine," the president said. "Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. I don't believe that they're gonna have to do that, but that's a judgment — there are negotiations, there are discussions I should say, that have taken place that I have not been part of including Ukrainians. And it's their judgment to make." 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden says Russia should be removed from G20, but that's up to the G20

Mr. Biden was asked if he thinks Russia should be removed from the G20.

Mr. Biden said his answer is "yes," but he added  "that depends on the G20."

"That was raised today, and I raised the possibility, if that can't be done, if Indonesia and others do not agree, then we should, in my view, ask to have … Ukraine be able to attend the meetings," the president said.

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden says he's "hopeful" Xi doesn't engage in Russia's war

President Biden declined to give details about his recent conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The U.S. is urging China to not get involved in Russia's war by providing military equipment or other assistance to Moscow. 

Mr. Biden said he told Xi that Xi would be "putting himself in significant jeopardy" economically should he assist Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

"I am not gonna comment on any detail about what we know or don't know as a consequence of that conversation," Mr. Biden said. 

The president said China understands its economic future is more closely tied to the West than to Russia. 

"I am hopeful that he does not get engaged," Mr. Biden said about Xi. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden says nature of response to any Russian use of chemical weapons "would depend on the nature of the use"

Mr. Biden declined to say whether the U.S. has any specific intel on whether Russia might use chemical weapons. 

"I can't answer that. I'm not going to give you intelligence data," Mr. Biden told the reporter who asked. 

"We would respond," Mr. Biden said, answering a question about how the U.S. or NATO would respond to the use of chemical weapons. "We would respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use." 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden says NATO has "never, never been more united than it is today"

President Biden began by marking the grim one-month milestone since Russia launched its war on Ukraine. 

When NATO members met immediately after the beginning of the war, they had three goals: support Ukraine with military and humanitarian assistance, impose the most significant sanctions ever on Russia, and to fortify the eastern flank of NATO allies. 

"We accomplished all three of these," Mr. Biden said. "Today we're determined to sustain those efforts, and to build on them." 

The president announced, as the White House had previously noted, an additional $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, and that the U.S. will welcome 100,000 displaced Ukrainians. 

"Putin was banking on NATO being split," Mr. Biden said. "... NATO has never, never been more united than it is today." 

By Kathryn Watson
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