President Joe Biden and Western allies convened in Brussels, Belgium on Thursday for the first of three summits meant to address what NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described as “the most serious security crisis in a generation.”
The Western allies met at NATO headquarters in Brussels, where they posed for a group photo before heading inside for closed-door talks expected to last several hours.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the meetings, Stoltenberg said the discussions would focus on the alliance’s support to Ukraine in the context of the Russian invasion, which on Thursday hit its one month mark.
“We will address this crisis together and address the threat that means for Ukraine, for NATO, and for the whole international rules-based order,” Stoltenberg said.
NATO leaders will also discuss the need to bolster the alliance’s deterrence and defense over the longer term, Stoltenberg added, with the first step in this regard being the establishment of four new battlegroups on NATO’s eastern flank. The battlegroups will be stationed in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia.
He called for NATO leaders to ramp up defense spending and praised commitments already made by some to boost investment. Germany is notable in this regard, with its leaders having already pledged to invest $110 billion in defense this year while committing to raise defense spending to at least 2 percent of GDP.
“We are the strongest Alliance in the world. And as long as we stand together, we are also safe,” Stoltenberg said.
Asked by reporters about the mental state of Russian President Vladimir Putin in light of rumors that some from his inner circle are considering defecting, the NATO chief declined to speculate, saying only that Putin had made a “big mistake” by ordering the invasion.
“President Putin has made a big mistake and that is to launch a war, to wage war, against an independent sovereign nation. He has underestimated the strength of the Ukrainian people,” Stoltenberg said.
By Tom Ozimek