US

Biden pledges air defence systems and insists ‘Ukraine can and will stop Putin’

Joe Biden has pledged more support for Ukraine – including air defence systems – as he welcomed NATO member states to a Washington summit marking the organisation’s 75th anniversary.

Dogged by rumours over his health, the US president delivered a forceful and determined speech in which he insisted the bloc was “more powerful than ever”.

The address came with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine intensifying, and Mr Biden‘s presidential rival Donald Trump continuing to hint the US would leave NATO if he wins November’s election.

“Putin wants nothing less, nothing less, than Ukraine’s total subjugation… and to wipe Ukraine off the map,” Mr Biden said.

“Ukraine can and will stop Putin.”

Biden during the 75th anniversary of NATO. Pic: AP
Image:
Biden during the 75th anniversary of NATO. Pic: AP

The centerpiece of the NATO summit will be new pledges of military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Mr Biden and the leaders of Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Romania have promised five additional Patriot and other strategic air defence systems to protect Ukrainian cities, civilians and soldiers.

More on Joe Biden

Other allies, including Canada, Norway, Spain, and the UK will provide other systems aimed at improving Ukraine’s defences.

“This is a pivotal moment for Europe and the transatlantic community, and I might add to the world,” Mr Biden added.

Analysis: Team Biden will be ‘pretty pleased’ with NATO speech

President Joe Biden’s speech commemorating the 75th anniversary of NATO was a “passionate reaffirmation of the power of the alliance”, our US correspondent Mark Stone says.

However, the “elephant in the room” during the speech was Mr Biden’s performance.

The US president has been under intense pressure over the last few days to prove he is capable to remain in the Oval Office following a disastrous debate performance against Donald Trump.

But, according to Stone, the US leader “appeared to be pretty word-perfect”, speaking with the help of an autocue.

“I am sure his team will be pretty pleased in what was a very important moment for him,” says Stone.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Washington on Tuesday and said he would “fight” for NATO to strengthen Ukrainian air defences and furnish it with more F-16 fighter jets.

“We are fighting for additional security guarantees for Ukraine – and these are weapons and finances, political support,” he said in a video on social media.

Read more:
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Trump claims Biden is quitting election
Biden says he ‘nearly fell asleep’ during TV debate

Meanwhile, t­he White House is hoping the president can turn the page on the speculation over his health following a disastrous debate performance.

Mr Biden has been working to persuade US voters, donors, and the Democratic Party that he is ready for re-election.

The president has rebuffed calls to step aside in his race against Mr Trump, vowing to beat him.

On Monday, his doctor explained Mr Biden has shown no signs of Parkinson’s disease after reports claimed a specialist had visited the president several times in the past year.

Mr Biden’s personal doctor Kevin O’Connor released a letter that insisted “President Biden has not seen a neurologist outside of his annual physical”.

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