WARSAW: US President Joe Biden met NATO and European leaders in Warsaw on Wednesday (Feb 22), with the allies vowing to strengthen defences “from the Baltic to the Black Sea” – as Russia sought to forge closer ties with China.
Biden, who has now left the Polish capital, attended a meeting with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and the heads of eastern European countries in a bid to shore up support for Kyiv nearly a year after Russia invaded Ukraine.
The leaders of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia joined the talks amid widespread concern in their countries that the conflict could spill over.
In a statement after the meeting, the leaders vowed to further “reinforce our deterrence and defence posture across the entire Eastern flank from the Baltic to the Black Sea”.
Stoltenberg urged allies to step up support for Ukraine, saying: “we cannot allow Russia to continue to chip away at European security”.
The UN General Assembly also meets on Wednesday, with Kyiv and its allies hoping to garner broad support for a resolution calling for a “just and lasting peace”.
In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin attended a patriotic rally, telling a crowd of tens of thousands that Russia was fighting “for our historical lands, for our people”.
In the audience, Ulyana, a 47-year-old lawyer, told AFP she came for “our president, our men who are defending our country”.
Earlier, Putin held talks with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, who was visiting Moscow after Washington and NATO voiced concern that China could be preparing to supply Russia with weapons.
“We will not be overwhelmed by threats and pressure from third parties,” Wang said.
A readout following the meeting published by Chinese state news agency Xinhua quoted Wang saying China was willing to “deepen political trust” and “strengthen strategic coordination” with Russia.
China would “uphold an objective and fair position and play a constructive role in solving the crisis through political means”, it said.
On Tuesday, Putin announced the suspension of Moscow’s participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty and promised to press on with the campaign in Ukraine, during a state of the nation address.
Speaking in Warsaw, Biden said the decision on the treaty was a “big mistake”.