President Biden said Thursday at a press conference in Brussels that NATO is united amid the conflict in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir "Putin was banking on NATO being split," Mr. Biden said in the whirlwind press conference. "NATO has never, never been more united than it is today."
Mr. Biden also said he supported expelling Russia from the G20, the group of the 20 biggest economies in the world, but conceded "that depends on the G20."
Mr. Biden's comments came only hours after an emotional plea by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who told NATO leaders that if there isn't more invention from Europe, the Russian invasion will spread to Poland, a NATO country. Zelenskyy asked that the alliance provide "effective and unrestricted" support to Ukraine, including any weapons the country needs to fend off the Russian onslaught.
Mr. Biden responded Thursday by announcing the U.S. will send $1 billion in humanitarian aid, on top of the $2 billion in aid his administration has provided since he came into office. Mr. Biden also said the U.S. would welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians to help alleviate the refugee crisis in Europe.
European Union nations, meanwhile, on the eve of meeting with Mr. Biden, pledged another $550 million in military aid for Ukraine.
NATO allies have agreed to provide cybersecurity assistance and equipment to help protect Ukraine against biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear threats, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday. But he reiterated that NATO will not put boots on the ground in Ukraine.
"We have a responsibility to prevent this conflict from becoming a full-fledged war in Europe involving not only Ukraine and Russia but NATO allies and Russia," Stoltenberg said. "That would be more dangerous and more devastating."
Four new NATO battlegroups are deploying to Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria — Mr. Biden said in a statement that their deployment "is a strong signal that we will collectively defend and protect every inch of NATO territory." He added that by the time NATO leaders meet for their next summit in June, "we will develop plans for additional forces and capabilities to strengthen NATO's defenses," in order to ensure NATO is prepared for "any challenge" in what is a "new and more dangerous security environment."
The gathering of NATO allies was taking place soon after the State Department formally assessed that Russia has committed war crimes against Ukraine, and as Russian forces struggle to make military progress, defying initial expectations of a swift conquest of the country. Russia has been hammering southern Ukraine with air and artillery strikes, trying to seize a swath of ground to create a land corridor between the occupied Crimean Peninsula and Russian territory.