NATO Summit: Ukraine Aid, US Election Uncertainty and Global Security Challenges

As they convene for their annual summit in Washington on July 10, U.S. President Joe Biden and the leaders of other NATO member states are set to announce fresh assistance for the war-torn country of Ukraine. Surrounded by allied leaders he has spent his three years in office cultivating, Biden, 81, hopes the international gathering will help him mount a type of comeback after he lost a June 27 debate and has been under fire for 13 days about his suitability for leadership.

Biden and the other leaders of NATO now turn to their challenging task after adamantly declaring Tuesday that the 32-member collective security alliance is “stronger than it’s ever been” in a speech. The two-year-plus impasse between the West and Russia over Ukraine is at the top of their agenda. But the summit also gives leaders a chance to address other vexing security issues, including the Israel-Gaza war and deepening bonds between Russia, Iran, China and North Korea.

November’s U.S. elections could presage a sharp change in Washington’s support for Ukraine and NATO. Republican candidate Donald Trump, 78, has questioned the amount of aid given to Ukraine in its battle against Russia’s invasion, as well as U.S. support for allies generally.

On the sidelines of the summit, Biden is expected to meet British Prime Minister Keir Starmer for their first face-to-face talks since his Labour Party won a landslide election victory that ended 14 years of Conservative rule. The countries are key trans-Atlantic allies. Biden will also host a dinner for NATO heads of state and government, an event that would not normally draw attention but has come into focus given concerns over whether Biden can handle the demands of the presidency for another four years.

A senior NATO official said this week that Russia lacks the munitions and troops to start a major offensive in Ukraine, but that it could sustain its war economy for three to four more years. Ukraine also has not yet amassed the munitions and personnel it needs to mount its own large-scale offensive operations, the official said. Hoping to change the course of the grinding conflict, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wants the alliance to send more weapons and money and offer security guarantees. He’ll meet Republican House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson, a Trump ally, at the Capitol on Wednesday.

India’s relationship with Russia gives it ability to urge Russian President Putin to end war in Ukraine: White House Zelenskyy is attending parts of the NATO summit as a guest but Ukraine ultimately wants to join the group to ward off further future attacks by Russia. That won’t happen any time soon. Candidates have to be approved by all of the alliance’s members, some of which are wary of provoking a direct conflict with Russia. Still, some members want the alliance to make clear that Ukraine is moving toward NATO “irreversibly” and are keen for language in a summit statement beyond the alliance’s pledge last year that “Ukraine’s future is in NATO.”

Already, NATO members have announced the delivery of five additional Patriot and other strategic air defense systems to help Ukraine. Still more aid announcements were expected at the summit, which marks the alliance’s 75th anniversary.

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