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Biden and other leaders head to Brussels ahead of back-to-back Nato, G7 and EU summits

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin and other leaders are also travelling to Brussels on Thursday.

US President Joe Biden greeted by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo after arriving at Brussels National Airport today.
US President Joe Biden greeted by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo after arriving at Brussels National Airport today.
Image: Evan Vucci

US PRESIDENT JOE Biden has arrived in Europe on a trip aimed to bolster Western unity and ramp up unprecedented sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Biden told reporters as he boarded the Marine One helicopter at the White House that he sees “a real threat” of Russian chemical warfare against Ukraine.

The possibility that President Vladimir Putin could order chemical, biological or even tactical nuclear strikes to subdue Ukraine will be one of the dire scenarios discussed at back-to-back Nato, G7 and EU summits in Brussels tomorrow.

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin and other leaders are also travelling to Brussels on Thursday for an EU Council meeting on the war. Martin is due to return to Ireland from Washington tonight after testing positive for Covid-19 ahead of St Patrick’s Day.

Biden, who is set to give a news conference at Nato headquarters tomorrow, will fly to Poland on Friday.

On Saturday he will meet Polish President Andrzej Duda before returning to Washington.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters travelling with Biden to Brussels that “what we’d like to hear is that the resolve and unity that we’ve seen for the past month will endure for as long as it takes”.

Sullivan said that economic sanctions, imposed by a global network of Western allies to cripple Russia’s finances, will be deepened in the summits.

“We, the United States, will announce a package of sanctions designations tomorrow that relate both to political figures, oligarchs… as well as entities,” Sullivan said.

Western partners were also looking to “coordinate on sanctions enforcement so that Russian efforts to evade the sanctions can be dealt with effectively”.

China

Beijing has refused to condemn Putin’s war, but Washington hopes at least to dissuade China from actively helping the Kremlin, either by bailing out the Russian economy or sending weapons.

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Sullivan said there was no sign that China was providing military assistance in the wake of a nearly two-hour phone call between President Xi Jinping and Biden last Friday.

“This is something we are monitoring closely,” he said.

“The president will certainly consult on the question of China’s potential participation in the conflict of Ukraine while he’s in Brussels. He’ll do so at NATO,” Sullivan said.

“He’ll also do so when he addresses the 27 leaders of the European Union, because on April 1st, the European Union is having a summit with China.

“We believe we’re very much on the same page with our European partners.”

© AFP 2022

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