Allies move to counter Russia, bolster Ukraine

US President Joe Biden (left), German Chancellor Olaf Scholz  and NATO Secretary General Jens...
US President Joe Biden (left), German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Reuters
The United States will start deploying longer range missiles in Germany in 2026, the two countries announced at a meeting of the NATO alliance - a major step aimed at countering what the allies say is a growing threat Russia poses to Europe.

The decision will send Germany the most potent US weapons to be based on the European continent since the Cold War, in a clear warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A US-German statement said the "episodic deployments" were in preparation for longer-term stationing in Europe of capabilities that would include SM-6, Tomahawk and developmental hypersonic weapons with greater range.

The move would have been banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the US and the Soviet Union in 1987 but that collapsed in 2019.

"We cannot discount the possibility of an attack against Allies’ sovereignty and territorial integrity," the allies said in a communique released on Wednesday.

More aid was headed to Ukraine as the allies bolster Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

A communique said the allies intend to provide Ukraine with at least €40 billion ($NZ71 billion) in military aid within the next year, but stopped short of the multi-year commitment NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had sought.

The document also strengthened past NATO language on China, calling it a "decisive enabler" of Russia's war effort in Ukraine and saying Beijing continues to pose systemic challenges to Euro-Atlantic security.

Stoltenberg told reporters it was the first time the 32 allies had jointly labelled China a decisive enabler of Russia’s war and called it an important message.

He said NATO was not an organization that imposes sanctions, but added: “At the end of the day, this will be for individual allies to make decisions, but I think the message we send from NATO from this summit is very clear.”

Biden said in a speech on Tuesday that NATO was "stronger than it's ever been" and that Ukraine can and will stop Russian President Vladimir Putin "with our full, collective support."

On Wednesday, he said he was pleased all NATO members were pledging to expand their industrial bases and to develop plans for defence production at home.

"We cannot allow the alliance to fall behind," Biden said. "We can and will defend every inch of NATO territory and we'll do it together."

At the White House, Biden and new British Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer had a back-and-forth exchange and shared laughs and congratulations over England's 2-1 win over the Netherlands in the Euro 2024 football tournament.

Biden described the United Kingdom as the "knot" tying together the trans-Atlantic NATO alliance and said that the two countries must continue to cooperate.

Biden, 81, has faced questions about his fitness for office after fumbling a June 27 debate and hopes the NATO spotlight will help him stage a comeback of sorts, surrounded by allied leaders he has spent his three years in office cultivating.

However, the US presidential election on November 5 could presage a sharp change in Washington's support for Ukraine and NATO. Republican candidate Donald Trump, 78, has questioned the amount of aid given to Ukraine to fight Russia's invasion and US support for allies generally.


Trump told Fox News Radio on Wednesday he would not pull the US out of NATO but reiterated that he wanted members to pay more.

"I just want them to pay their bills. We're protecting Europe. They take advantage of us very badly," he said.

Trump had pressed congressional Republicans to stall military aid for Ukraine before later reversing course.

Uncertainty about US leadership has unsettled NATO allies.

"If there’s one thing that I’m concerned about with the United States, it’s the polarization of the political climate - it is, I have to admit, very toxic," Alexander Stubb, president of NATO member Finland, told reporters.

While Biden has been seeking to rally allies and domestic support, several high-ranking European officials met a top foreign policy adviser to Trump during the summit.

The communique says the alliance will continue to support Ukraine "on its irreversible path to full Euro-Atlantic integration, including NATO membership". That language had been a major point of contention among the allies.

The communique also called on China to cease material and political support for Russia's war effort. It expressed concern about China's space capabilities, referenced rapid expansion of its nuclear arsenal, and urged Beijing to engage in strategic risk reduction talks.