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An alliance, if you can hold it: NATO gathers in the shadow of the Russia-Ukraine war

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As Biden seeks to keep the transatlantic alliance together, and Kiev aims to keep Russian brutality at the forefront, this week’s summit gives the U.S. delegation a chance to increase pressure on allied countries to speed up arms transfers and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. ahead is too late.

We just sent them $ 40 billion. I mean, literally it means putting money where your mouth is, Sen said. King Angus (I-Maine), who visited Finland, Latvia and Turkey last week. So I do not think we should convince anyone of where the Americans are. They were there. Now, where to be good after six months, I do not think anyone can predict. But there really is a half life to these issues.

Already, tensions are rising within NATO, as powers like Germany and France offer weapons and aid at a slower pace than their economic power suggests they are capable of.

Small countries with fresh memories of the Russian occupation like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have opened all their armaments to ensure the defense of Ukraine. Estonia, in particular, has already donated the equivalent of one-third of its annual defense budget this year. Lithuania has risked the Kremlin’s wrath by cutting off rail supplies to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, and Poland has become the springboard for global efforts to arm and supply Ukraine, along with the donation of more than 200 tanks and other weapons. Warsaw is also focused on exporting Ukrainian agricultural products abroad.

A defense official from a NATO country in Eastern Europe, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that for the nations in that region the only thing that matters is the departure of the Russians from Ukraine.

Evidence so far clearly shows that when it comes to gun aid, there is room to do 10 times more, the official added. When it comes to sanctions, then there is room for much more.

Easy to lose your intensity

The calculation is different in Washington, where many are trying to balance the moral imperative of supporting Ukraine with the challenge of keeping American voters on board to help Ukraine, despite domestic challenges ranging from inflation to social tensions. Meanwhile, countries on the border with Russia see a fierce war likely to still be in its early stages.

This dynamic is causing new concerns on Capitol Hill that, as the midterm elections approach, the overwhelming bipartisan support that came with previous aid packages may fade. Members of Congress may also begin to seek a basis from a harsh sanctions regime that had the unintended consequence of contributing to high consumer costs for Americans.

“Both here and in Europe, it is easy to lose your intensity on this issue as it goes on,” Sen said. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), A member of his party leadership who is joining the congressional delegation in Madrid. But I think it’s really important to understand the tremendous change that it will bring to both Europe and the world in the next 20 or 25 years if Putin wins or if Putin loses. And we can not forget that.

It is unclear whether Biden will ask Congress for additional funding before the end of the fiscal year in September, as he continues to withdraw from a $ 40 billion package for Ukraine approved in May. Congress leaders from both parties have rallied after the administration’s requests for help, however, and are vowing to continue approving new money waves until Russia is defeated.

I am ready to vote [another aid package] if necessary, said the Senate Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Who is also part of the delegation this week. They are in a life-or-death struggle.

There are already some cracks in US support for the war.

Former President Donald Trump’s allies continue to label aid packages for Ukraine as irresponsible, while some Trump-backed candidates have decided to replace retired GOP senators who have been staunch supporters of the alliance.

Biden may actually be looking forward to his week among friends and allies in Europe, as countless domestic challenges are growing rapidly.

Inflation is crushing American consumers, with senators like King saying his office is making angry calls from voters asking why the US is sending money to Ukraine when gas costs $ 5 a gallon. And many lawmakers, even those who have been most eager to help Ukraine, are urging European allies to step up and align with what the US has done.

“I’m worried that Ukraine will fade from the headlines,” he said. John Cornyn (R-Texas). But I think at the same time Europeans need to understand that this is their yard and they need to grow. And they just can’t continue to depend on Uncle Semi to continue writing checks.

And some progressive Democrats have suggested they may not support another bailout if the Pentagon fails to show that it is properly monitoring the flow of weapons into Ukraine.

If they were to be effective in supporting Ukraine, then we need that money to go to the right places, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Said in a brief interview. And that requires transparency to know if this is happening.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) and Thom Tillis (RN.C.), who are leading the congressional delegation this week, have argued that the level of US aid will never be enough until Ukraine defeats Russia.

The longer the war lasts, the more challenging it becomes, especially as we enter the winter months, Shaheen said. But that is why doing everything we can now to help Ukrainians ensure that they have access to the weapons they need, to address the economic challenges they face, is really important.

There is little friction

A Western European diplomat told POLITICO that Putin must bear the cost of undertaking the invasion, not least to prevent him from going to other countries in the future. But in the same vein, the diplomat added that they may already feel some tension within the alliance over the degree of support for Ukraine and how long it can be maintained.

It is already clear that there is not that kind of very strong consensus only at the edges, there is a quarrel of political will, the official said. It is unlikely, the official added, that another $ 40 billion package from Washington would be close, regardless of in which direction the political winds blow in the November election.

Shaheen and Tillis, who re-established the NATO Senate Monitoring Group in 2018, have pushed for the Senate to approve Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership, a process expected to be completed in the chamber by mid-August.

While the historic enlargement has given member states a reason to celebrate, the Baltic states have called for a laser focus on the task at hand and have warned against encouraging Kiev to commit to giving territory to Russia.

Other diplomats from France and Germany have warned against humiliating Russian President Vladimir Putin and suggested that Ukraine may need to relinquish territory or some autonomy in order to achieve some sort of peace with Moscow.

The counterattack was summed up by an Eastern European front-line diplomat who spoke to POLITICO on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive issues. It is extremely important that Europe continues to support Ukraine in at least the current levels of material and economic assistance for the coming months, the diplomat said.

We are a little different from our Western European allies, we believe that we should not push the Ukrainians for any territorial concessions if they are not ready to do so, the official said. We must make sure that the Ukrainians are able to defend themselves, they are fighting for us, for Europe. So it is in our interest to make sure that in the long run they will be a sovereign country that will be able to defeat and hinder Russia.

Quint Forgey contributed to this report.

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2/ https://www.politico.com/news/2022/06/27/nato-russia-ukraine-biden-00042421

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