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Jul 8, 2024, 11:12am EDT
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Semafor Signals

NATO summit to focus on Ukraine despite shadow of Biden’s faltering reelection campaign

Insights from Bloomberg, Time Magazine, and The Washington Post

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U.S. President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
Reuters/Elizabeth Frantz
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The News

The Washington DC NATO summit begins Tuesday, when representatives from the 32 member states will gather to discuss future support for Ukraine and how to counter the growing threat of Russian aggression.

The alliance is expected to take over coordinating US aid for Ukraine, an effort to “Trump proof” the support that Semafor first reported. It is also set to commit to at least €40 billion ($43.4 billion) in military aid for Ukraine, a European diplomat told Semafor. Reuters first reported the package.

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NATO is also set to announce measures to boost its military readiness, including fast-tracking purchases of air defense systems and other key weaponry, and to push for standardizing ammunition across its militaries.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Biden under pressure to perform at summit

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Sources:  
Associated Press, Bloomberg, The Washington Post

The political maelstrom surrounding US President Joe Biden threatens to engulf a summit that had been planned as a celebration of the alliance’s stability. Biden may hope the summit could help shore up his campaign amid widespread concern about his age: European leaders mostly prefer Biden to Donald Trump, who has threatened to drastically reduce the US commitment to the alliance. But Biden’s poor presidential reelection campaign performance has left European officials uncertain about his future, Bloomberg reported. “They don’t want to make it part of the discussion, out of courtesy for Biden,” a former NATO official told The Washington Post, “but it is on everyone’s mind.”

NATO’s commitment to Ukraine has been scaled back

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Sources:  
Bloomberg, Time Magazine, CNN

While the alliance will present an aid package as a strong sign of its commitment to Ukraine, it is relatively modest compared to initial plans of a €100 billion, multiyear package for Kyiv ($108.4 billion). The alliance has yet to hammer out the terms of a commitment to enable Ukraine to join NATO, with Germany and the US reportedly preferring a “bridge to membership,” while more hawkish countries push for an “irreversible” pathway to membership. Yet officials are keen to avoid a repeat of 2023’s Vilnius summit, where Ukrainian officials clashed with the alliance. Three European officials told Semafor that members had done a better job of expectation management with Kyiv this year, keeping Ukrainian officials more in the loop in the hope of avoiding such an outcome.

China will be criticized for its support of Russia

The alliance is also expected to offer an assertive criticism of China in its final communique, focusing in particular on Beijing’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine, the European officials said. “There will be strong language on China,” one of the officials said, adding that it was a key priority for the Biden administration. While NATO officials have stressed that the alliance has a role to play in the Indo-Pacific, there are strong disagreements within NATO about its role in Asia. “We don’t see any added value for NATO being involved as a security actor in the Indo-Pacific,” the official said, noting that even the US was worried that an increased NATO presence might antagonize China.

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