US President Joe Biden on Wednesday held a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the official opening of the Atlantic Alliance summit in Madrid, where he announced that America will increase its military deployment in Europe, a continent facing a security crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“This is a history-making summit. We’re going to reaffirm the unity and determination of our alliance to defend every inch of NATO territory,” said Biden in public remarks on Wednesday. “We’re sending an unmistakable message in my view that NATO is strong, united, and the steps we’re taking at this summit are going to augment our collective strength.”
Biden said that after sending 20,000 additional US forces earlier this year to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, America will further boost its presence on European soil by increasing US Navy destroyers stationed at Spain’s Rota naval base from four to six; establishing a permanent headquarters for the Army 5th Corps in Poland and increasing US-NATO interoperability across the entire Eastern flank; maintaining a rotational brigade of 3,000 fighters and another 2,000 personnel headquartered in Romania; enhancing rotational deployments in the Baltic states; sending two additional F-35 squadrons to the UK, and stationing additional air defense and other capabilities in Germany and in Italy, said Biden. “Together we’re going to make sure that NATO is ready for threats from all directions across every domain, land, air and sea.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has described the Madrid gathering as “a historic summit, a transformative summit where we’ll make decisions that will actually change this Alliance for many years to come. We will agree the biggest overhaul of our collective defense and deterrence since the end of the Cold War. And US is of course very much part of that.”
Sweden, Finland membership
Reflecting the new sense of urgency, Stoltenberg also announced that fresh headway has been made on Sweden and Finland’s historic request to join NATO following decades of nonalignment. On Tuesday, the leaders of Turkey, Finland and Sweden signed an agreement paving the way for Finnish and Swedish NATO membership after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lifted his objections in connection with both countries’ stance on Kurdish groups that Turkey considers terrorists.
“It demonstrates that President Putin has not succeeded in closing NATO’s door. He’s getting the opposite of what he wants,” said Stoltenberg. “He wants less NATO. President Putin is getting more NATO while Finland Sweden are joining our Alliance.”