United States President Joe Biden has said the US will soon announce a new $800m military aid package to Ukraine, bringing the total since he took office to nearly $7bn.
Biden said the aid, which will be announced in the coming days, will include advanced air defence system and artillery support as Ukraine continues to face a Russian offensive in the eastern Donbas region.
“The United States is rallying the world to stand with Ukraine,” he said, adding the support would continue “as long as it takes”.
Biden spoke on the final day of a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, in which the 30-country bloc agreed to a new strategic framework that focuses on the “direct threat” from Russia and for the first time acknowledged the “challenges” posed by what leaders described as China’s “coercive policies”.
The US President also pushed back on the suggestion that, in light of an array of domestic issues, including gun violence, inflation woes, and the rollback of abortion rights, some US allies think Biden has failed to live up to its pledge to reassert Washington’s leadership on the international stage.
“America is better positioned to lead the world than we ever have been,” he said.
“I have not seen anyone come up to me … nor have you heard them say anything other than ‘Thank you for America’s leadership …You’ve changed the dynamic of NATO and the G7 [Group of Seven bloc of nations],’” Biden said.
He spoke after announcing earlier in the week that the US would boost its military presence in Europe to bolster NATO. Washington is set to create an army base in Poland, send 5,000 additional troops to Romania, deploy two F-45 squadrons, and increase the number of US navy destroyers in Spain.
Biden hailed the NATO summit as having “rallied our alliances to meet both the direct threats Russia poses [to] Europe and the systemic challenges that China poses to a rules-based world order”.
Meanwhile, he praised the official invitation for Sweden and Finland to join NATO, which will increase the bloc’s border with Russia by 1,287km (800 miles) via Finland.
That move came after Turkey dropped its opposition to the two Nordic countries joining the bloc.
Biden said during a sideline meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he voiced his support for Washington selling F-16 fighter jets to Ankara, which would fulfil a long-standing request.
Biden maintained there was “no quid pro quo” in the statement, but noted he would need Congressional approval to make the sale.
Roe v Wade ‘destabilising’
Turning towards domestic issues, Biden said the recent decision by the conservative-controlled US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade, which removed federal protections for abortion that had been in place for nearly 50 years, has been “destabilising” to the US public, and reiterated his stance that the ruling was “outrageous”.
He said the US Senate should move to override the filibuster, a legislative mechanism that requires 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to pass most legislation, in order to pass privacy protections that would reinstate federal abortion protections.
He said “if the filibuster gets in the way … we should provide an exception”.
Biden also demurred when asked if, during his upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia in July, he would ask King Salman or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to increase oil production to lower prices, which have skyrocketed following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Biden said that while he has indicated that he supports Gulf countries increasing oil production, his meetings would focus on a broad range of issues, in particular normalisation agreements between Israel and Arab countries.
Polls have shown Biden’s approval rating plummet amid high oil prices and inflation, which have increased the cost of living for US residents.
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