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US, NATO to increase military presence in Europe amid Russia's offensive

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (R) listens as President Joe Biden speaks at the Palace of Moncloa in Madrid, Spain, on June 28, 2022. (Photo by AP)

The United States and its NATO allies say they have decided to increase their military presence in Europe in response to Russia's offensive against Ukraine, which is now in its fourth month.

US President Joe Biden made the pledge at a NATO summit in the Spanish capital, Madrid, on Tuesday, as he spoke to Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Biden said Washington plans to increase the number of its naval destroyers based in Rota, southern Spain, from four to six, adding that the move is one of multiple announcements that the US and its NATO allies would make to help bolster the alliance in the region.

"The new commitments will constitute an impressive display of allied unity and resolve," Biden said.

The US president further accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to "wipe out" Ukrainian culture in the ongoing war in eastern Europe.

"Sometimes I think Putin's objective is just to literally change the entire culture – wipe out the culture of Ukraine (with) the kinds of actions he's taking," he said.

In a joint statement following the Biden-Sanchez meeting, the US and Spain said Russia's offensive "fundamentally altered the global strategic environment" and that the "aggression constitutes the most direct threat to transatlantic security and global stability since the end of the Cold War."

US to announce 'long-term' military reinforcements in Europe

Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden would announce additional moves on Wednesday, suggesting that they would involve positioning "additional forces on the eastern flank" of NATO "in a steady state."

There would be "specific announcements tomorrow on land, sea and air of additional force posture commitments over the long term," he said, adding that the forces will be focused on the Baltics, Balkans and NATO's eastern flank bordering Russia.

Sullivan said one such announcement will be the basing of six US naval destroyers at Rota, Spain, which he said "will help increase the United States and NATO's maritime presence."

He further noted that NATO as a whole will announce a "historic set of deliverables... on the issue of force posture."

Sullivan said the alliance's beefing up of forces in Europe is not just in response to immediate instability caused by Russia's offensive against Ukraine but also "the long-term change in the strategic reality."

"In the summit, you will see the alliance follow through on that commitment and the US follow through on that commitment," he said.

The latest development came a day after Sullivan said Washington is in the process of finalizing a weapons package, including long-range air-defense missiles, for Ukraine.

Since the onset of Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine on February 24, the US and its European allies have been sending advanced weapons into Ukraine to help its military fend off Russian forces.

Russia has time and again warned that the West's flood of weapons will not force Moscow to end the operations before achieving its objectives.

The US has already delivered $2.4 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of Biden's term in office, though much of that aid has come since Russia's military operation against Ukraine began in late February.

The US has also added about 20,000 troops to the 80,000 who were previously in Europe, shortly before Russia's offensive.

Biden arrived in Spain for a three-day NATO summit on Monday. He is looking to use the summit to shore up allies amid signs of fractures in the Western alliance.

He is set to meet with Turkish President Erdogan on Wednesday. The US president will also hold a rare joint meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to discuss North Korea's nuclear program.

Biden will also look to highlight progress made by NATO members toward the alliance's goal of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on their defense budgets.

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