US President Joe Biden will fly to Brussels, Belgium for an extraordinary summit of Nato leaders later this month, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
Ms Psaki said Mr Biden will use the trip to discuss Nato’s “ongoing deterrence and defence efforts in response to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine,” and to “reaffirm” America’s “ironclad commitment” to the alliance.
“His goal is to meet in person face to face with his European counterparts and talk about where we are at this point in the conflict in the invasion of Ukraine by Russia,” Ms Psaki said. “We’ve been incredibly aligned to date – that doesn’t happen by accident. The president is a big believer in face-to-face diplomacy, so it’s an opportunity to do exactly that.”
Ms Psaki added that a face-to-face meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is “an option” for the trip, but said the details of Mr Biden’s itinerary were still being worked out.
She also announced that the president will join a previously scheduled European Council summit, at which he plans to discuss “shared concerns” about the invasion, including US and European efforts to “impose economic costs on Russia” and provide humanitarian support to the millions of Ukrainian refugees displaced by the invasion.
The announcement of Mr Biden’s upcoming travel comes just one day before Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is set to address members of the US House of Representatives and Senate.
Asked whether Mr Zelensky is expected to ask for the US to support transfer of Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets to his Air Force, Ms Psaki would only say that Mr Biden held a “nearly hour-long” call with the Ukrainian leader on Friday and stressed that US officials are in contact with him and his advisers “every day”.
Ms Psaki also touted the latest round of sanctions imposed in response to the invasion against Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, his wife, and 11 other Russian defence officials.
Ms Psaki said the US and European efforts have so far imposed “unprecedented costs” on Russia by reversing three decades of progress made since the fall of the Soviet Union in less than a month.
“Our actions have hit hard at the things President Putin cares about the most — degrading his military access to cutting edge technology and ability to project power and influence,” she said.