Biden vows to back Ukraine ‘as long as it takes’ despite economic toll

NATO leaders concluded a summit with new commitments to a united front against Russian aggression, but they face the challenge of persuading their own people that it’s worth the cost.

President Joe Biden of the U.S. right, meets with President President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey at the NATO summit in Madrid on Wednesday, June 29, 2022. Kenny Holston/The New York Times

MADRID — President Joe Biden vowed Thursday that the United States and NATO would support Ukraine for as long as necessary to repel Russia’s invasion, despite waves of economic pain rolling through world markets and voters’ homes, saying it was the Kremlin that had miscalculated in its aggression, and not the West in opposing it.

At a news conference at the close of a NATO summit in Madrid, Biden said Americans and the rest of the world would have to pay more for gasoline and energy as a price of containing Russian aggression. How long? “As long as it takes, so Russia cannot in fact defeat Ukraine and move beyond Ukraine,” he said.


His remarks underscored the kaleidoscope of problems that he and other NATO leaders face in keeping their people committed to backing up Ukraine with money, weapons and sanctions against Russia, despite the damage it is doing to Western economies and an uncertain outcome on the battlefield.

“You can already see in the media that interest is going down, and that is also affecting the public, and the public is affecting the politicians,” said Ann Linde, Sweden’s foreign minister.

The 30 member states of NATO capped an important summit in Madrid this week, taking the first step to admitting Sweden and Finland, emphasizing their unity in support of Ukraine and approving plans to markedly increase the alliance’s forces in countries on its eastern flank, closest to Russia and its ally, Belarus. The decisions, prompted by the Russian invasion, are expected to strengthen the alliance, especially in its ability to defend the Baltic nations, while extending its border with Russia significantly.

Biden said that before the war began, he warned President Vladimir Putin of Russia that if he invaded Ukraine, “NATO would not only get stronger, but would get more united, and we would see the democracies in the world stand up and oppose his aggression and defend the rules-based order.” That, he said, was “exactly what we’re seeing today.”


Ukraine’s leaders continue to plead for more arms, delivered faster, to beat back Russia’s slow advance. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, addressing the NATO leaders, said this week that Ukraine needed about $5 billion a month just to keep his government functioning.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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