Biden announces NATO aid to Ukraine as re-election campaign falters

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a NATO event commemorating the alliance's 75th anniversary, in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2024.

Yves Herman | Reuters

President Joe Biden announced new commitments to help Ukraine strengthen its air defenses against Russia in a speech commemorating Russian terrorist acts on Tuesday. NATO's 75th anniversary.

“Putin wants nothing less — nothing less — than the total subjugation of Ukraine, to end Ukrainian democracy,” Biden said. “We know Putin will not stop with Ukraine. But make no mistake: Ukraine can and will stop Putin, especially with our full collective support.”

The aid will include new batteries and components for Patriot missile systems donated by the US, Germany, Romania, the Netherlands and other partners. Italy will donate an additional SAMP-T missile system.

Biden said via teleprompter that more air defenses will be sent to Ukraine in the coming months.

The announcement comes two years after Russian President Vladimir Putin's brutal invasion of Ukraine has become a point of contention on Capitol Hill as lawmakers remain divided over whether to continue providing funding for Ukraine's defense.

Biden's speech was also the latest example of the split screen hanging over this week's 2024 NATO summit: While the president holds key meetings with foreign allies, his political future within the US Democratic Party is at stake.

Authorities in Washington DC are preparing for the NATO summit with heightened security measures and road closures around the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and near the White House.

Celal Gunes | Anadolu | Getty Images

The president's comments Tuesday were another opportunity for him to assuage Democrats' concerns about his 2024 candidacy, following his disastrous debate performance against former President Donald Trump in June.

Since then, cracks have opened within the Democratic Party, as some lawmakers, donors and strategists publicly called on Biden to withdraw from the race and allow a new nominee to emerge.

Earlier on Tuesday, House Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., joined the growing to count from Democratic lawmakers officially calling on Biden to withdraw.

Others have expressed continued support for the president in public statements while expressing reservations behind closed doors.

While some Democrats have kept their concerns about the president's electability private, many have openly said this week's NATO summit poses additional pressure given looming doubts about his re-election.

The summit is a timely example of Democrats' heightened fears of losing to Trump in November. The former president has said he would consider pulling the U.S. out of the 32-member military alliance if he were to win a second term.

“Americans know we are stronger with our friends, and we understand this is a sacred duty,” Biden said during his NATO speech.

Since his June 27 debate blunder, Biden has made several public appearances to try to rebuild confidence in his candidacy, including a 22-minute interview with ABC News on Friday. So far, his public appearances have done little to assuage Democrats’ concerns.

“The president needs to engage with voters in the kind of way that proves to skeptics that he can do the job,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in an interview broadcast Sunday about the week ahead. “If he can't do that, then he's got to make a decision.”

Biden will hold a solo press conference on Thursday night, a long-awaited opportunity for him to prove he can communicate with reporters in an unscheduled setting.

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