Written by 09:19 World

As NATO Summit Convenes, Leaders Worry About Biden’s Uncertain Future

President Biden opened NATO’s 75th anniversary summit on Tuesday seeking to bolster confidence in both the alliance and his own political standing with a forceful speech warning of the threat posed by Russia and other authoritarian states as the world plunges into a new era of superpower conflict.

Mr. Biden, speaking in a strong voice, with few errors, sounded themes from some of the most memorable speeches of his presidency, painting an image of a fearsome and growing NATO with an ironclad commitment to Ukraine in its fight against a Russian invasion. And he announced a pledge of more weapons to help the Ukrainians fend off air attacks.

“The war will end with Ukraine remaining a free and independent country,” he said. He matched that with a vow to “defend every inch” of NATO territory — on land, in space and in cyberspace — and repeated his caution that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia “won’t stop at Ukraine” if he proves victorious.

The three-day celebration, opened with pageantry in the same gilded auditorium where the NATO treaty was signed by a dozen nations in 1949, came at a moment of enormous testing for both Mr. Biden and the alliance. After a disastrous debate performance 12 days earlier that has imperiled his re-election candidacy, the delivery by the president, who has staked both his place in history and much of his campaign on his rallying of the NATO nations, may have mattered as much as his words.

The faltering of Mr. Biden’s campaign has also created a test for the alliance that it did not anticipate: whether it can credibly maintain the momentum it has built in supporting Ukraine and serving as a bulwark against further aggression when confidence in its most important player has never been more fragile.

The president was being closely watched by three dozen leaders, from President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, who enraged allies in recent days by traveling to meet Mr. Putin and once again seeming to side with him on the invasion of Ukraine. Mr. Biden made no mention of his political troubles, but he could not have escaped the fact that every word was being scrutinized for signs of faltering.

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Last modified: 10 July 2024
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