Washington, 14 June 2023 (TDI): The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, met with the President of the United States Joe Biden at the White House. The purpose of the meeting was to provide a preview of the topics and agenda that will be discussed at the upcoming alliance summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

During the meeting, leaders addressed the impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine for transatlantic security. They stressed the need to strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defense capabilities.

In addition, the leaders engaged in discussions regarding the support offered by allies and partners to assist Ukraine in its defense efforts. They also expressed a mutual interest in accelerating Sweden’s membership process within the Alliance.

It was Biden’s fourth meeting with the NATO chief, a Norwegian politician and former prime minister who assumed the role in 2014. Anticipating Stoltenberg’s departure, Biden seized the opportunity to congratulate him on his tenure with the military alliance. It is worth noting that the NATO member states extended Stoltenberg’s tenure three times, recognizing his contributions.

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Biden praised Stoltenberg and said, “I think you’ve done an incredible job. NATO allies have never been more united. We both worked like hell to make sure that happened. And so far, so good.”

In addition, Biden emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to defending any NATO country in the event of an attack on any part of its territory. This commitment holds particular significance for the eastern allies, ranging from Poland to the Baltics.

Defense Assistance

Stoltenberg expressed his appreciation to Biden for the recently announced $325 million aid package. This package specifically allocated funds for munitions, weapons, and equipment intended to support Ukraine.

The package encompassed a range of arms and equipment, including artillery rounds, anti-tank weapons, and ammunition. Notably, it also provided resources for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), further enhancing Ukraine’s defense capabilities.

This assistance coincided with a Ukrainian counteroffensive effort to remove Russian military forces from their territory. Although gains have been modest so far, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg expressed optimism about the progress made by Ukrainian forces.

Sweden’s Accession to NATO

The ongoing war in Ukraine has significantly strengthened efforts to expand NATO’s membership. Both President Biden and Secretary General Stoltenberg have expressed their support for Sweden’s inclusion in the alliance, highlighting the importance of this step. Sweden, known for its long-standing military neutrality, has sought NATO membership due to increased fears of Russian aggression.

Despite Finland joining NATO, Sweden has faced stronger opposition, particularly from Turkey. Nonetheless, Stoltenberg remains positive about Sweden’s accession, urging Turkey to overcome its objections.

We’ll all look forward to welcoming Sweden as a full-fledged member of the alliance as soon as possible,” Stoltenberg said.

Increase Defense Spending

In 2006, NATO member countries reached an agreement to allocate a minimum of 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) toward defense expenditures. This decision was made in light of increasing concerns regarding terrorism and the emergence of China as a global power.

However, not all NATO allies have been able to meet this target. In 2022, only 9 of NATO’s 30 members spent at least 2% of their GDP on defense. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that he expects allies to agree to increase defense spending at the Vilnius summit.

“I expect allies to agree that two percent of GDP for defense should be a minimum that we should all invest in our defense, in our collective security,” Stoltenberg said.