The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) held its 31st summit in Brussels today.
It’s past 10 p.m. in Brussels now, but if you’re just catching up on the day, here are some of the highlights:
- NATO countries issue communique on China and Russia: The NATO members issued a communiqué highlighting the “threat” presented by Russia and the “challenges” posed by China, following a meeting on Monday. “Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security,” the communiqué read. On China, the statement said: “China’s growing influence and international policies can present challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance. The statement added that the NATO members “will engage China with a view to defending the security interests of the Alliance.”
- NATO agrees cyberattacks could lead to the invocation of mutual self-defense clause: The leaders of the 30 NATO countries agreed “that the impact of significant malicious cumulative cyber activities might, in certain circumstances, be considered as amounting to an armed attack,” an assessment that could lead to the invocation of the organization’s mutual self-defense clause, Article 5. The countries “(reaffirmed) that a decision as to when a cyber attack would lead to the invocation of Article 5 would be taken by the North Atlantic Council on a case-by-case basis,” according to a joint statement released during the NATO leaders’ summit on Monday.
- Biden says he’ll make “red lines” clear to Putin: US President Biden was asked about his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He refused to give details about what he expected the meeting to look like or what topics it might include, but said he will make clear where the “red lines” are. “I’m going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate, if he chooses, and if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past relative to cybersecurity and some other activities, then we will respond. We will respond in kind,” Biden said.
- NATO backs US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan: NATO leaders largely backed the US decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Some American allies had griped ahead of the summit that they weren’t properly consulted before Biden announced he would withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11. Others have questioned how security can be maintained in the country when US troops leave, particularly at Kabul International Airport and at other diplomatic facilities. NATO leaders have also agreed to provide “transitional funding” to ensure that the international airport in Kabul continues to operate.
- Biden calls for NATO members to stand up to autocrats and “phony populism”: President Biden repeated a call Monday “to prove to the world and to our own people that democracy can still prevail against the challenges of our time and deliver the needs of our people.” Biden said it was up to Democratic nations to prove to the world that autocracies cannot deliver for their people. He said NATO members must root out corruption, guard against hatred and “phony populism,” and invest in strengthening institutions “that underpin and safeguard our cherished democratic values.”
US President Joe Biden stopped briefly at a 9/11 memorial at NATO headquarters before departing Monday’s summit.
Biden stood at the twisted piece of metal from the North Tower of the World Trade Center and made the sign of the cross before greeting Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg one final time.
“Got to remind everybody: NATO. NATO,” Biden could be overheard telling Stoltenberg, presumably a reference to the US invocation of Article 5 following 9/11.
They spoke for a little while longer, placing their hands on each others’ shoulders, before Stoltenberg walked Biden to his car.
President Biden says he can assuage concerns among European allies about the state of American democracy by showing up and proving his commitment to restoring traditional alliances.
Biden was questioned about fears among western nations that recent events in the United States, including the Jan. 6 riot, have shaken the country’s historic position as a leader of the free world.
Biden said he was convinced that leaders he is dealing with this week on a European tour have a more nuanced view of the American people and “know generically the character of the American people and know where the vast center of the public stands.”
“I think that they have seen things happen, as we have, that shocked them and surprised them that could have happened, but I think they, like I do, believe the American people are not going to sustain that kind of behavior,” Biden said.
Biden said he believed the Republican Party is “vastly diminished in numbers,” and called the GOP’s leadership “fractured.” But he said the Trump phase of GOP politics was “passing.”
“That’s why it’s so important that I succeed in my agenda. Whether it’s dealing with the vaccine, the economy, infrastructure. It’s important we demonstrate we can make progress and continue to make progress,” he said.
President Biden told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny that when he called the Russian President a “killer,” he answered honestly, adding he didn’t “think it matters a whole lot” in terms of their upcoming summit.
Biden initially responded to Zeleny’s question by chuckling and replying: “I’m laughing, too,” a reference to Putin’s reaction in an interview when he was asked about Biden’s initial comments.
“The answer is I believe he has in the past essentially acknowledged that he was – there are certain things he would do or did do. Look, when I was asked that question on air I answered it honestly. I don’t think it matters a whole lot in terms of this next meeting that we’re about to have,” Biden added.
When asked how he would ever be able to trust Putin if the two leaders are able to move forward, Biden said he would “verify first and then trust.”
“In other words everything would have to be shown to be actually occurring. It’s not about, you know, trusting, it’s about agreeing,” Biden said.
Biden pointed to other examples and treaties with other adversaries in the past, saying, “you don’t say I trust you, you say this is what I expect and if you violate the agreement you made then, the treaty’s off.”
“I’m hoping that President Putin concludes that there is some interest in terms of his own interest in changing the perception the world has of him, in terms of whether or not he will engage behavior that’s more consistent with what is considered to be appropriate behavior for a head of state,” Biden added.
US President Joe Biden repeated a call Monday “to prove to the world and to our own people that democracy can still prevail against the challenges of our time and deliver the needs of our people.”
Speaking after his first NATO summit, Biden said it was up to Democratic nations to prove to the world that autocracies cannot deliver for their people.
“That’s how we’ll prove that democracy and that our alliance can still prevail against the challenges of our time, deliver for the needs and the needs of our people,” he said.
He said NATO members must root out corruption, guard against hatred and “phony populism,” and invest in strengthening institutions “that underpin and safeguard our cherished democratic values.”
Biden was speaking after meeting with the 30-member defense alliance, as well as a number of leaders one-on-one.
He offered a firm defense of the Article 5 collective defense clause, and said “everyone in that room understood the shared appreciation that America is back.”
Article 5 is the principle that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members. It’s been a cornerstone for the 29-member alliance since it was founded in 1949 as a counterweight to the Soviet Union. Article 5 has only been invoked once: After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the US.
Biden said there was a “strong consensus” among leaders about his plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11.
And he repeated his concerns that Russia and China are “driving a wedge” between western allies.
CNN’s Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.
Speaking at a news conference following a full day of meetings with NATO leaders, President Biden was asked about his upcoming meeting with Russian President Putin on Wednesday.
Specifically, he was asked what it would mean for the US-Russia relationship if jailed opposition activist Alexey Navalny were to die or be killed in prison.
“Navalny’s death would be another indication that Russia has little or no intention of abiding by basic fundamental human rights,” Biden said.
“It would be a tragedy. It would do nothing but hurt his [Putin’s] relationships with the rest of the world, in my view,” he continued.
Navalny was imprisoned earlier this year by a Moscow court for allegedly violating the probation terms of a 2014 case in which he received a suspended sentence of three and a half years.
On June 9 a Moscow court ruled that two organizations linked to Navalny are “extremist” groups – forcing them to shut down and rendering their members ineligible to run in upcoming elections.
US President Joe Biden was just asked about his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He refused to give details about what he expected the meeting to look like or what topics it might include, but said he will make clear where the “red lines” are.
“I’m going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate, if he chooses, and if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past relative to cybersecurity and some other activities, then we will respond. We will respond in kind,” Biden said.
“We should decide where it’s in our mutual interest and the interest of the world to cooperate and see if we can do that. And the areas where we don’t agree, make it clear what the red lines are,” Biden added.
He said he’s spoken to Putin in the past, and described him as “bright” and “tough.” Biden also said he would provide more details after the Wednesday meeting.
“The fact is that I will be happy to talk with you when it’s over, not before, about what the discussion will entail,” he said.
US President Joe Biden opened his press conference tonight in Brussels by noting that the United States is “approaching a sad milestone” of 600,000 Covid-19 deaths.
“We made enormous progress in the United States. Much of the country is returning to normal, and our economic growth is leading the world, and the number of cases and deaths are dropping dramatically. But there’s still too many lives being lost. We’re still averaging in the last seven days the loss of 370 deaths per day — 370 deaths. That’s significantly lower than at the peak of this crisis, but it’s still a real tragedy. We’re approaching a sad milestone. Almost 600,000 lost lives because of Covid-19 in America.”
He pleaded with Americans who haven’t gotten the vaccine to get vaccinated “as soon as possible.”
“We have more work to do to beat this virus. And now’s not the time to let our guard down,” Biden said. “Please get vaccinated as soon as possible. We have had enough pain. Enough pain.”
US President Joe Biden is speaking to reporters now from Brussels after participating in the 2021 NATO summit.
Biden arrived at the gathering with a vow to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to a military alliance his predecessor viewed with disdain. He placed enhanced attention on Russia and China, along with the cyber-threats emanating from both countries.
NATO leaders largely backed Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, according to a senior administration official present for the talks.
The group agreed in its final statement to provide “transitional funding” to keep the airport open, and Turkey — a NATO member state — committed to keeping troops in the country to safeguard the facility.
A final communiqué issued by the group highlighted the “threat” presented by Russia and the “challenges” posed by China following the meeting on Monday.