Fresh from his visit to Ukraine, US President Joe Biden will rally NATO’s eastern allies in Poland on Wednesday (22 February), a group of countries in which most – but not all – are strong supporters of military aid to Ukraine.
Biden used the trip to rally support for Ukraine as the war enters its second year, with no end in sight, and it came on the same day as a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he accused the West of seeking Russia’s destruction and dangled the threat of nuclear war.
Before returning to Washington on Wednesday, Biden will meet leaders of the Bucharest Nine, the countries on NATO’s eastern flank, to reaffirm support for their security.
The ‘Bucharest Nine’ (B9) was founded on 4 November 2015 in Bucharest, at the initiative of the President of Romania Klaus Iohannis and the President of Poland Andrzej Duda during a bilateral meeting between them. It gathers the Presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
All joined the Western military alliance after being dominated by Moscow during the Cold War, and most, with the notable exceptions of Hungary and Bulgaria, are now among the strongest supporters of military aid to Ukraine.
While Hungarian strongman Viktor Orbán openly opposes military aid to Ukraine, Bulgaria has been hardening its anti-war position under its president Rumen Radev, who controls a caretaker government appointed by him.
On Tuesday, Biden disputed Putin’s assessment that the West was a threat to Russia, but vowed again to defend “every inch” of NATO territory if it was attacked.
While Biden was in Kyiv on Monday, the US State Department announced more support for Ukraine comprising $450 million of artillery ammunition, anti-armour systems and air defence radars, and $10 million for energy infrastructure.
Putin, meanwhile, in his long-awaited address, defended his decision to go to war and vowed to prevail. He also hailed Russia’s nuclear arsenal, announced the suspension of the New START arms control treaty with the United States, declared new strategic systems had been put on combat duty, and warned that Moscow could resume nuclear tests.