Washington - President Joe Biden is set to meet with G7 leaders to begin a series of meetings with its Nato allies and partners in Brussels and Warsaw to coordinate more security assistance to Kyiv and additional sanctions against Russia over its military operation in Ukraine.
The trip comes amid intense fighting between Russian and Ukraine forces over Mariupol, where thousands of people are being evacuated amid a worsening humanitarian crisis one month into the special military operation launched by Moscow.
On Thursday, Biden will attend an extraordinary Nato summit on Ukraine and meet with G7 leaders, according to the White House. He will also attend a European Council summit and hold a bilateral meeting with European Council President Charles Michel, before ending his trip in Warsaw on Saturday where he will discuss humanitarian issues with his Polish counterpart.
The US continues to claim Russia is planning to use chemical weapons in Ukraine, although Moscow said its entire arsenal was destroyed in 2017. Biden made the same allegation before departing for Europe on Wednesday.
“I think it's a real threat,” Biden said when asked whether he is concerned with the threat of chemical warfare at the moment.
Moscow, for its part, accused the US of having biolabs across Ukraine, which the Biden administration has denied.
The White House said Biden will deliver remarks at the extraordinary Nato summit at alliance headquarters on Thursday and “discuss ongoing deterrence and defence efforts in response to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine.”
According to CNN, the Pentagon provided Biden with several options for the deployment of more US troops in Eastern Europe, something that may be discussed at the emergency Nato summit, where he will be joined by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden while in Europe will not only coordinate the next phase of military aid to Ukraine but will raise the question of China’s involvement in the conflict.
A bipartisan group of US senators ahead of the summit gave Biden a five-point proposal to deliver to Nato, which includes calls for members to increase defence spending commitments, bolster presence on the alliance’s eastern flank, and consider increased engagement in the Balkans.
SANCTIONS AND HUMANITARIAN SUPPORT
New sanctions on Russia and joint action to reduce European dependence on Russian energy are expected to be announced by Biden and other leaders during the meetings, according to the White House.
However, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told Sky News right before the trip that Biden will not ask European partners to abandon Russian energy supplies because it is something they "simply cannot do."
During the European Council Summit at the Europa building, Biden will discuss transatlantic efforts “to impose economic costs on Russia, provide humanitarian support to those affected by the violence, and address other challenges related to the conflict,” the White House said in a statement.
The United States will also announce a package of sanctions designations on Thursday, Sullivan said, targeting Russian political figures and “oligarchs.”
Biden will then travel to Poland on March 25, where he will meet with counterpart Andrzej Duda and other Polish government officials. Biden and Duda will discuss the US and Polish responses to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, US officials have said.
Approximately 1.8 million people have fled from Ukraine to Poland since the beginning of the military operation, Polish State Secretary Maciej Wasik said earlier in March.
Russia says that the military operation is intended to demilitarize and de-nazify Ukraine in protection of the self-declared Donbas republics.