US President Joe Biden arrived in Europe on Wednesday for a four-day trip with the aim of keeping up pressure on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, amid sanctions fatigue and splits over energy sanctions among US allies.
Biden will take part in an emergency Nato summit, a G7 summit and a meeting of the European Council in Brussels on Thursday – all groups that largely welcome a return of US leadership and engagement in Europe after the nadir of the Donald Trump administration.
The Biden team is hoping to translate that goodwill into political stamina over what could well be a long, gruelling conflict.
As war rages on in Ukraine, President Joe Biden will huddle with key allies in Brussels and Warsaw this week to talk through plans for imposing punishing new sanctions on Russia and dealing with an extraordinary humanitarian crisis, while developing a consensus on how they would respond if Russia were to launch a cyber, chemical or even nuclear attack.
Biden arrived in Brussels on Wednesday for a four-day trip that will test his ability to navigate Europe’s worst crisis since World War II ended in 1945. There are fears that Russia could use chemical or nuclear weapons as its invasion becomes bogged down in the face of logistical problems and fierce Ukrainian resistance.
After meeting other leaders in Belgium, Biden will travel to Poland for a bilateral meeting with President Andrzej Duda. Given the nation’s position on Nato’s eastern flank, the former Soviet satellite state has been given special attention by the US in the past few months, with visits from Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Vice-President Kamala Harris.
Although topics of military aid to Ukraine and an increased Nato presence on Polish soil are sure to come up, US officials say the top issue for the meeting will be dealing with the flood of refugees that has been arriving at the Ukraine-Poland border since hostilities began.
After the initial invasion failed to topple Ukraine’s government, the war has become a grinding endeavor for Putin, who is relying on airstrikes and artillery that are devastating civilian communities. Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have not produced a cease-fire or a path to ending the conflict, and the U.S. continues to rush weapons like anti-tank missiles to Ukrainian forces.
Earlier this week, Biden warned that Russia could be planning cyberattacks that would affect U.S. companies. The U.S. president also spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday to warn him against backing Russia with military or financial assistance.
U.S. concerns about China are expected to be on the agenda when Biden attends a meeting of the European Council, where he will also discuss the worsening refugee and humanitarian crises that have developed over the past month. The European Union is scheduled to hold a summit with China on April 1.