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President Biden and other leaders of the NATO alliance gathered in Brussels Thursday to plot the next steps in their response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has devolved into a bloody stalemate exactly one month after it began.

Biden arrived for the emergency heads of state meeting shortly before 10 a.m. Belgium time and was greeted by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. The two exchanged friendly words and walked past reporters without stopping to take questions.

The NATO summit — which will include a video address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — is the first of three major events on Biden’s calendar Thursday. Later in the day, Biden will huddle with leaders of the G-7 group of industrialized nations, then meet with leaders of the European Union.

The main purpose of Biden’s trip is to coordinate new sanctions against Russian officials. Penalties against the 300 members of Russia’s lower house of parliament — the Duma — could be announced as soon as Thursday.

The NATO members are also expected to discuss the creation of four new multinational battlegroups, numbering between 1,000 and 1,500 troops each, along its eastern front to discourage further Russian aggression.

President Joe Biden speaks with France's President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as they arrive at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
President Joe Biden speaks with France’s President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as they arrive at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“We need to do more, and therefore we need to invest more,” Stoltenberg told reporters earlier Thursday. “There is a new sense of urgency and I expect that the leaders will agree to accelerate the investments in defense.”

None of this is likely to satisfy Zelensky, who has pleaded for the establishment of a no-fly zone and the provision of fighter jets and air defense systems in a series of addresses to Western legislatures since the Russian invasion began Feb. 24. While previewing his remarks late Wednesday, Zelensky said he would ask NATO leaders “declare that it will fully assist Ukraine to win this war” by supplying any weapons necessary.

However, Western nations have been reluctant to broaden their assistance to Ukraine beyond small arms and anti-tank missiles for fear of drawing Russia into direct conflict with NATO.

Before leaving Washington Wednesday, Biden told reporters that he thought there is a “real threat” that Russian President Vladimir Putin will order the use of chemical weapons to bolster his invading forces — which have only managed to capture just one major Ukrainian city in the first 28 days of their attack due to logistical errors and unexpectedly fierce resistance.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Wednesday that NATO allies would consult on how to respond to “potential contingencies” of that sort, including “this whole question of the potential use of nuclear weapons.”

Prior to Thursday’s summit, Stoltenberg said that “any use of chemical weapons would fundamentally change the nature of the conflict. It would be a blatant violation of international law, and it will have widespread and severe consequences.”

The secretary-general stopped short, however, of saying that the alliance would take military action in response to such an attack in Ukraine, which is not a NATO member.

President Joe Biden speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Biden speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
AP
The leaders of NATO countries pose for a family photo before the summit in Brussels.
The leaders of NATO countries pose for a family photo before the summit in Brussels.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“I will not speculate beyond the fact that NATO is always ready to defend, to protect and to react to any type of attack on a NATO allied country,” he said.

With Post wires

Source: NYPOST

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