MADRID (AP) — President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the United States will significantly increase its military presence in Europe over the long term, including establishing its first permanent presence in Poland, to bolster regional security following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

When meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the opening of the alliance’s annual leaders’ summit in Madrid, Biden said “NATO stands strong and united” and that the steps to be taken take during the gathering “will further increase our collective strength”.

Biden opened his attendance at the summit by announcing the permanent base of a US military garrison in Poland. He also said the US would send two more F-35 fighter squadrons to the UK and send more air defense and other capabilities to Germany and Italy.

“Today, I announce that the United States will strengthen our force posture in Europe and respond to the changing security environment while strengthening our collective security,” he said.

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Stoltenberg, who said earlier Wednesday that the alliance faces its biggest challenge since World War II due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, welcomed Biden’s announcement.

“This really demonstrates your decisive leadership and strength in the transatlantic bond,” Stoltenberg said, thanking Biden for the “unwavering support from you and the United States to Ukraine.”

Biden said the United States would permanently station the U.S. Army’s V Corps Forward Command in Poland, a move he said would enhance U.S.-NATO interoperability on the eastern flank of the covenant. This decision marks the first permanent base of American forces on NATO’s eastern border. Biden added that the United States is also stepping up its rotating troop deployments to Romania and the Baltic region.

Celeste Wallander, US Undersecretary of Defense for International Affairs, told reporters that a permanent presence in Poland would be essential to help NATO navigate the new security environment in Europe caused by the Russian invasion. The United States provides the bulk of NATO’s military power.

US officials stressed that the permanent base applied only to staff units, not combat troops, and was therefore in line with a 1997 agreement between NATO and Russia in which the alliance agreed not to permanently base combat troops in Eastern Europe as it aimed to build more constructive forces. links in the post-Cold War environment.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski told Polish news agency PAP that the decision to add a US command structure was a “manifestation of the ever-closer cooperation between the United States and the Poland” and would give NATO allies insight into the Russian threat.

The combat units Biden is sending to Romania and the Baltic region are on rotating deployments, rather than permanent assignments, to stay in compliance with this agreement.

“There has been no communication with Moscow about these changes, nor is there any obligation to do so,” said John Kirby, spokesman for Biden’s National Security Council.

Biden announced after arriving at the summit on Tuesday that the United States would base two more destroyers at its naval base in Rota, Spain, bringing the total number to six.

The United States currently has more than 100,000 military personnel deployed across Europe, up from about 20,000 since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine began four months ago.

Biden predicted this week’s meetings would be a “historic climax” as leaders were expected to approve a new strategic framework, announce a series of measures to increase their defense spending and capabilities and pave the way for Finland and the Historically neutral Sweden. join NATO.

Biden said Putin thought NATO members would split after invading Ukraine, but got the opposite response instead.

“Putin was looking for the Finnishization of Europe,” Biden said. “You are going to have the NATOisation of Europe. And that is exactly what he did not want, but exactly what must be done to guarantee the security of Europe.

Turkey, the last remaining country to approve the Nordic countries’ membership of NATO, reached an agreement on the eve of the summit on Tuesday evening to back their addition to the 30-nation alliance.

While the White House has said the United States is not a direct party to the negotiations, a senior administration official said Biden spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday to encourage him to pave the way for Sweden and Finland to join. The two leaders are scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss other matters, the White House said.

Biden also met on Wednesday with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who are attending the NATO summit as the alliance seeks to strengthen ties in the Indo-Pacific region and address challenges from China.

The three leaders discussed North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which Biden said the three found “deeply concerning.”

Biden said “our trilateral cooperation is in my view critical” and said the meeting was an opportunity for leaders to coordinate a joint response, as US officials say the isolated nation may soon conduct another nuclear test.

Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani in Washington and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.

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