What they want: Allies meet in Europe for Ukraine summits

Mar 23, 2022, 2:48 AM | Updated: 4:10 pm
FILE - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, from left, President Joe Biden and Europ...

FILE - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, from left, President Joe Biden and European Council President Charles Michel remove their masks before participating in the United States-European Union Summit at the European Council in Brussels, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Even before Air Force One touches down in Brussels to bring President Biden to three summits in one Thursday, Western allies have already found what they are looking for, that all too rare sense of unity. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Even before Air Force One touches down in Brussels to bring President Joe Biden to three Ukraine summits on Thursday, Western allies have already found what they are looking for — that all too rare sense of unity.

They have Russian President Vladimir Putin to thank for that.

After Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24 and its brutal war since then over the past month, allies from Washington to Tokyo and Brussels have acted in unison.

And they did it with such staggering speed to hit the Kremlin with unprecedented sanctions and offers of help to Kyiv. That symbolism has the space to trump urgent problem-fixing this week.

With staccato rhythm, Biden will attend a NATO, Group of Seven and European Union summits all within 12 hours of driving around Europe’s diplomatic capital from one headquarters to another. The only reason this is possible is because all agree on the major issues so, basically, little time will be needed to paper over deep differences.

On Friday, Biden will be traveling to Poland, the humanitarian hub of the crisis where more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees have arrived, and where U.S. forces have shored up NATO’s eastern flank.


Beyond the all-important handshakes, group photos and warm scenes of togetherness, Biden will use his time in Brussels to announce new sanctions against Russia while underscoring the importance of closing possible loopholes in the avalanche of Western measures that have already been enacted.

At a time when it is essential to avoid fissures in what’s been a largely unified Western response to Russia, the U.S. president will look to press important allies like Poland to dial back the idea of deploying a Western peacekeeping mission to Ukraine. It’s an idea that the U.S. and some other NATO members see as too risky as they seek to deny Russia any pretext to broaden the war beyond Ukraine’s borders.

For his domestic audience, look for Biden to once again underscore the heroics of the Ukrainian military and volunteers who have managed to hold off an imposing Russian military. He will highlight those remarkable efforts — as well as the generosity of the Poles and other allies at the front lines of the humanitarian crisis — as he redoubles his calls for Americans to stand firm against a Russian war that is spurring gas price hikes and adding to inflationary pressures in the U.S.

Overall, Biden also wants to revel in the scenes of unity at the headquarters of NATO and the EU, where memories of an unraveling trans-Atlantic bond riven with disputes under former President Donald Trump are far from forgotten.


That show of unity will also be paramount at NATO headquarters, where the United States has traditionally given orders, with the rest, sometimes grudgingly, going along.

The summit on Thursday will be a new opportunity for the 30-nation military organization to publicly show that Washington is consulting its allies, something that was sorely lacking under the Trump administration.

Biden and his counterparts are expected to discuss the kinds of “red lines” that might draw NATO out of its defensive posture — the world’s biggest security organization has mostly bolstered its own defenses since the invasion a month ago — to respond with force.

Nuclear, chemical or a massive cyberattack appear the most likely triggers, but NATO remains wary of any response that might draw it into a full-scale war with nuclear-armed Russia.

The leaders are also set to discuss the longer-term future of NATO’s defenses along its eastern flank, ranging from Estonia in the north, down around western Ukraine to Bulgaria on the Black Sea. Military commanders have been ordered to draw up options.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that the “new defense posture” would include substantially more land forces at higher readiness, more air power filling NATO skies and aircraft carrier strike groups, submarines and combat ships “on a persistent basis” at sea. Expect applause and full support when such issues are raised.


Even if it gained a brutal enemy on its eastern doorstep, the 27-nation bloc also fully regained an old friend, and it will be able to shake on that friendship when Biden attends a summit of all EU leaders which had already been months in the making.

No European will mind. Together with the Biden administration, the EU has been standing shoulder to shoulder in pushing through four packages of sanctions against Putin, his advisers and oligarchs, cutting deeper than many would have thought. This comes after feeling looked down upon for four years under Trump, who among other things, even slapped sanctions on the EU.

“It is to show this message of unity,” said Europe Minister Clement Beaune of France, which holds the rotating EU presidency. He also set the scene for more sanctions pressure in a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

At the same time, the EU is hoping Biden won’t push demands for sanctions too far for a partner whose trade ties with Russia are far bigger and intricately intertwined.

“Sanctions must not hit European states harder than the Russian leadership. That is our principle,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday. “Nobody is served if we consciously gamble with our economic base.”

Such unity will also help the EU on the global stage since the optics of a strong embrace of Biden will also not be lost on Chinese President Xi Jinping, with whom the EU has a summit set for next week.


There won’t be a seat reserved anywhere for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, yet he will be on everyone’s mind — not least because he will have a video link at the NATO summit.

It has been crystal clear what he wants from Western allies.

With passion and rhetorical flair, he has pleaded with legislatures in the United States, the EU, Britain, Japan and Canada, for more military and humanitarian aid. But his demands for NATO to enforce a no-fly zone to protect his people have been rejected, with the alliance making clear it won’t risk an all-out war with Russia.

He will get the same reply from Scholz.

“I hear the voices of those who demand a no-fly zone or NATO peacekeepers in Ukraine,” the German leader said Wednesday. “In almost 80 years of post-war history we have successfully avoided the unthinkable – a direct military confrontation between our western defense alliance, NATO, and Russia. It must stay that way.”

Zelenskyy has been having a series of conversations with Western leaders in the days before Thursday’s summits and he expects them to approve more sanctions to punish Russia and more help for Ukraine.

“We will work, we will fight, as hard as we can, to the last, bravely and openly,” he said in a video address Wednesday.


Lorne Cook in Brussels, Frank Jordans in Berlin, and Aamer Madhani in Washington, contributed to this report.


Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


A person wearing a protective mask walks in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikk...
Associated Press

Asian shares trade mixed ahead of US jobs report

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were trading mixed Friday ahead of a closely watched U.S. jobs report that may affect global interest rates. Weaker than expected earnings reports from U.S. technology companies, announced after Wall Street trading ended, pulled Chinese benchmarks lower. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.4% in afternoon trading to 27,501.03. Australia’s S&P/ASX […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Travelers wearing face masks with their luggage head to the immigration counter at the depar...
Associated Press

China, Hong Kong scrap cross-border travel quota, COVID test

HONG KONG (AP) — Travel between Hong Kong and China will no longer require COVID-19 PCR tests nor be held to a daily limit, authorities announced Friday, as both places seek to drive economic growth. Hong Kong’s tourism industry has suffered since 2019 after months of political strife that at times turned into violent clashes […]
24 hours ago
Peter Ellingwood delivers heating oil, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, in Farmington, Maine. On Friday, the...
Associated Press

January may have delivered lower, if still solid, job growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — The American economy has an unusual problem: The job market looks too strong — at least to the inflation fighters at the Federal Reserve. Companies are still seeking more workers and are hanging tightly onto the ones they have. Putting aside some high-profile layoffs at big tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Attendees walk past a booth advertising 5G telecommunications services at the PT Expo in Bei...
Associated Press

Chill pervades China’s tech firms even as crackdown eases

HONG KONG (AP) — A grinding crackdown that wiped billions of dollars of value off Chinese technology companies is easing, but the once-freewheeling industry is bracing for much slower growth ahead. Analysts say China’s easing of restrictions on companies like e-commerce giant Alibaba and online games company Tencent and talk of support for the private […]
24 hours ago
Australia's Nick Kyrgios, left, and Serbia's Novak Djokovic shake hands following an exhibition mat...
Associated Press

Kyrgios pleads guilty to assault, has no conviction recorded

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Nick Kyrgios had suffered severe depression, suicidal ideation and insomnia in the past, a psychologist told a court on Friday when the Australian tennis star pleaded guilty to pushing a former girlfriend to the ground two years ago. The 2022 Wimbledon runner-up pleaded guilty in the Australian Capital Territory Magistrates Court […]
24 hours ago
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly discusses plans by Integra Technologies, of Wichita, Kansas, to build a new...
Associated Press

Kansas commits $304M to chip plant to lure federal funds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas plans to give $304 million in taxpayer-funded incentives to a semiconductor company in its largest city to build a huge new factory, but the project won’t go forward without funds the U.S. government has promised for rebuilding the nation’s chip-making capacity. Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday that Kansas has an […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
What they want: Allies meet in Europe for Ukraine summits