VILNIUS, Lithuania—President Joe Biden delivered a speech on July 12 following the conclusion of a two-day NATO summit in Vilnius, seeking to convey a clear message to Russia that the alliance’s commitment to Ukraine “will not falter.”
“The defense of freedom is not the work of a day or a year. It’s the calling of our lifetime, of all time,” Mr. Biden said during his speech at Vilnius University, which was open to the public. “We are steeled for the struggle ahead. Our unity will not falter. I promise you.”
Mr. Biden attended the summit on July 11-12 in Lithuania, where he met with world leaders to discuss the alliance’s pressing challenges, particularly Russia’s war in Ukraine.
During this speech, Mr. Biden said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was wrong to assume that NATO would break apart.
“He thought our unity would shatter at the first testing. He thought Democratic leaders would be weak. But he thought wrong,” he added.
This year’s summit came at a critical moment, with many calling it the alliance’s most important meeting since the end of the Cold War. Significant decisions were reached, including the future path of Ukraine’s membership to NATO, further support for the war-torn country, and an increase in defense spending commitments by member countries.
The NATO allies also included a strong statement on China’s growing global ambitions in this year’s summit communiqué.
The meeting in Vilnius brought together heads of state, military officials, and diplomats from the alliance’s 31 member nations.
Mr. Biden said that NATO is “stronger, more energized, and more united than ever in its history.”
“And even after all this time, Putin still doubts our staying power. He’s still making a bad bet that the conviction and the unity among the United States and our allies and partners will break down,” he said. “He still doesn’t understand that our commitment, our values, and our freedom are something we can never, never, ever, ever walk away from. It’s who we are.”
The president continued by lauding U.S. efforts, including sharing intelligence about Russia’s plans to invade Ukraine, assisting NATO members in preparing to deter any aggression, and rallying international support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
“We will not waver,” Mr. Biden said. “Our commitment to Ukraine will not weaken. We will stand for liberty and freedom today, tomorrow, and for as long as it takes.”
The president also praised Lithuania for breaking away from the Soviet Union more than 30 years ago.
“The whole world saw that decades of oppression had done nothing to dim the flame of liberty in this country,” Mr. Biden told hundreds of Lithuanians who had waited in line for nearly 3 hours to hear him speak.
Mr. Biden added that the United States has never recognized the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states.
On the last day of the summit, Mr. Biden met with Group of Seven (G7) leaders to offer security assistance for Ukraine in its fight against Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also joined the meeting, during which the G7 leaders issued a “Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine.”
According to the joint declaration, each country will individually negotiate long-term security arrangements with Ukraine to offer military aid, training, intelligence sharing, and cyber support, so that the country can defend itself and deter future attacks.
This joint declaration will “make it clear that our support will last long into the future,” Mr. Biden announced after the conclusion of the meeting.
“We’re going to help Ukraine build a strong capable defense, across land, air, and sea,” he added.
After his speech, Mr. Biden traveled to Helsinki, where he will commemorate Finland’s accession to NATO on Thursday. The president is in the midst of a week-long trip to Europe. Earlier this week he visited London, where he met King Charles at Windsor Castle and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak before heading to the NATO summit.
The president is scheduled to return to Washington on Thursday evening.