In addition, behind the facade of unanimity, there is some disagreement in the ranks. Eastern European countries in particular are pushing for stronger NATO action in the Ukraine crisis. Estonia asks for a no-fly zone, Poland wants to put forward a proposal for a “peace force” in Ukraine, with troops even NATO could supply. And sometimes there are discussions about sending fighter planes to Ukraine.
All of that doesn’t really line up with the alliance’s official line which says NATO is not involved in the conflict: “We are not part of this conflictAlthough nearly all member states provide arms to Ukraine on a bilateral basis, the alliance itself is limited to verbal salvos to Putin. After all, the risk of escalation (and “World War III”) is too great for NATO and Joe Biden to suck the alliance into war.
Smoothing those creases out a bit, that’s another reason for President Biden to travel to Europe in person. After Brussels, he also visited Poland, the NATO country that was probably the most affected by the war. With the visit, Biden expressed his solidarity and gratitude to Poland, but he might as well express his discontent in Warsaw.
In Brussels, as the undisputed primus inter pares, he will be able to direct and possibly settle the debate about the appropriate NATO response. NATO boss Stoltenberg, who has seemed increasingly nervous in recent weeks, will not be sad about that. Finally, the American president will also be pleased to know the intention of more and more European member states to significantly increase their investment in the defense sector. He even had a trophy to present at his home in Washington.
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