Ukraine's Energy Operator Imposes 'Tougher' Power Outages (2024)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. President Joe Biden said Russia is seeking "nothing less" than to "wipe Ukraine off the map," but he forcefully insisted that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not prevail and announced that Washington and its allies will provide Ukraine with further weapons, including additional air-defense systems.

"Ukraine can and will stop Putin, especially with our full collective support. They have our full support," Biden said on the first day of the NATO summit as he announced Western donations of additional Patriot missiles systems and interceptors to Ukraine.

"The war will end with Ukraine remaining a free and independent country. Russia will not prevail," Biden said.

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

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RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia's full-scale invasion, Kyiv's counteroffensive, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

The United States and partners intend to provide Ukraine with dozens of additional tactical air-defense systems in the coming months, Biden said. Ukraine will also receive hundreds of interceptors over the next year, he added.

A simultaneous statement by the White House said the United States, Germany, and Romania will donate Patriot batteries while the Netherlands and other partners will provide Patriot components to enable the operation of an additional Patriot battery. Italy will donate an additional SAMP-T system, it said.

The State Department said further security aid announcements will be made during the NATO summit.

Biden's speech was closely watched, not only for his comments related to NATO support for Ukraine but also for his overall performance amid calls by a growing number of fellow Democrats for him to end his reelection campaign following his struggling debate effort against Republican rival Donald Trump on June 26.

The concerns about Biden's age and ability to lead will partially overshadow the agenda of the three-day summit, which will mark NATO's 75th anniversary, although the U.S. leader did not appear to have any missteps during his speech at the Mellon Auditorium in the U.S. capital.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, speaking just before Biden, said that should Russia be victorious in its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, it would embolden Iran, China, and North Korea and shape the global-security environment for decades to come.

"There are no risk-free options with an aggressive Russia as a neighbor," Stoltenberg said. "There are no risk-free options in a war. And remember, the biggest cost and the greatest risk will be if Russia wins in Ukraine. We cannot let that happen."

"The outcome of this war will shape global security for decades to come," Stoltenberg said.

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Biden Says NATO Is 'Stronger Than Ever' As Alliance Marks 75th Anniversary

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Leaders of NATO countries on July 9 opened the crucial summit to discuss ways to bolster the alliance's defense capabilities and support Ukraine against the backdrop of U.S. political uncertainty and Russia's intense bombing of Ukraine, whose leader also attended the gathering to press Kyiv's war needs.

Support and aid to Ukraine is likely to take on even greater immediacy at the summit following one of the worst Russian air attacks on the country since the Kremlin launched the full-scale invasion in February 2022.

The barrage of missiles fired across Ukraine on July 8 struck several civilian facilities, including Kyiv's Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital, killing at least 43 people in total and injuring scores more in what Biden called a "horrific reminder of Russia's brutality."

SEE ALSO:Condemnation Of Russia Mounts As Ukraine Counts Toll Of Attack On Children's Hospital

Michael Carpenter, senior director for NATO at the National Security Council, told reporters on July 8 that the allies would announce new measures to bolster Ukraine's security, including air defense and F-16 fighter jets, but he did not give any details.

A senior NATO official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said that despite dwindling resources, Russia would likely be able to maintain its war economy for three to four years.

However, the official added that the Kremlin lacked the munitions and troops to launch a major offensive against Ukraine in the near term.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has for months pleaded with NATO members for more air defense, especially the U.S.-made Patriot missile system, to defend its troops, cities, and infrastructure against large-scale Russian bombing campaigns.

SEE ALSO:NATO At 75: A Journey From Cold War 'Bulwark' To Global Security Force

Upon arriving at the summit and ahead of his speech later on July 9, Zelenskiy said he would also press for NATO commitments on additional warplanes and to provide enhanced security guarantees.

In a video posted on his Telegram account, Zelenskiy said: "We are fighting for additional security guarantees for Ukraine. And these consist of weapons and finances, political support."

"We are doing, and will always do everything, to make the Russian terrorist lose," he added.

Zelenskiy has also pressed since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022 for a pathway to Ukraine’s eventual membership in the alliance, which so far has been received coolly by some countries who say such a move is unthinkable while the war is under way.

A senior NATO official on July 5 said the alliance would unveil a "bridge to membership" plan for Kyiv at the summit along with the pledges of additional military aid for Ukraine.

NATO sources said alliance members are, at Kyiv's request, considering including in the summit's communique that Ukraine's path to eventual membership is "irreversible" -- wording that would be a direct challenge to Putin's demands for peace, which include Ukraine's exclusion from NATO.

The sources said NATO’s so-called eastern flank – particularly the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia – are pressing hardest for robust wording and actions in support of Ukraine’s eventual membership.

SEE ALSO:Investigation: EU Shell-Production Capacity, Supplies To Ukraine Fall Far Short Of Promises

The alliance will announce in the coming days a new NATO military command in Germany, led by a three-star general, to coordinate the training and equipping of Ukrainian troops. It will also station a senior NATO representative in Kyiv, White House national-security adviser Jake Sullivan said on July 9.

However, the summit will not extend an invitation for Ukraine to join the alliance. Carpenter said there was still no consensus on the issue among the 32 allies.

The State Department said the final communique will "make it clear" that Ukraine belongs in the alliance without giving a time frame for when it will join. It added that portions of the declaration are still being negotiated, without being specific.

Map: The Expansion Of NATO

NATO members also couldn't agree on a multiyear military aid package for Ukraine that Stoltenberg had proposed. Instead, NATO will announce a one-year, 40 billion-euro ($43 billion) package.

Biden and Zelenskiy will meet on July 11 and be joined by the leaders of about two dozen other countries that have signed bilateral security agreements with Ukraine.

Biden last month signed a 10-year agreement that calls on the United States, among other things, to help bolster Ukraine's military-industrial complex through co-production and joint ventures with U.S. industry.

The expected announcements have disappointed some Western supporters of Ukraine who want greater aid and a clearer path into NATO.

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NATO's Carpenter said the commitments made to Ukraine during the summit will show that Putin's strategy of outlasting the alliance won't work.

NATO unity on Ukraine, however, will be challenged at the summit by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose pro-Russian views have irked the alliance.

Orban, who just took over the rotating presidency of the EU, flew to Moscow last week without informing the bloc ahead of time to discuss an end to the war with Putin. The trip was denounced by Zelenskiy, the EU, and the Biden administration.

NATO Spending

Defense spending by NATO members will be another hot topic at the summit. NATO members committed a decade ago to reach a defense spending target of at least 2 percent of gross national product by 2024. Stoltenberg said that 23 of the alliance's 32 members will meet that target this year.

"One of the things you'll see at the summit, certainly behind closed doors, is that there'll be a lot of allies holding each other's feet to the fire in terms of defense spending commitments," Carpenter said.

More Than 20 NATO Members To Meet 2% Defense Spending Goal In 2024

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson (Republican-Louisiana), a Trump ally, said on July 8 that Republicans "celebrate the peace and stability that NATO has secured...but we also believe that NATO needs to be doing more."

“Everyone cannot ride along on the coattails of America. And Donald Trump says this as bluntly as anyone. It’s just right and fair for us to demand that others do their part,” he said.

The United States accounts for 68 percent of NATO defense spending.

Some Western officials say 2 percent should be a floor, not a ceiling, and that NATO members should be spending 2.5 percent or more amid growing threats from Russia, China, and Iran.

"If we look into the future, and we look into fully resourcing our defense plans and preparing for all possible contingency, this will require for a number of countries to go beyond 2 percent," said Benedetta Berti, head of policy planning in the office of the NATO secretary-general.

Trump harangued NATO allies when he was president for not meeting their spending commitments, threatening at one point to withdraw the United States from the alliance.

Biden's poor debate performance and the specter of another Trump presidency has many European allies worried. But National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the White House had not picked up any signals from allies that they need to "be reassured of American leadership and President Biden's commitments."

For Stoltenberg, the summit is expected to be his last major event before he departs the alliance on October 1. He will be replaced by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

With reporting by Erin Osborne
Ukraine's Energy Operator Imposes 'Tougher' Power Outages (2024)
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