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Biden, Stoltenberg Confer Before NATO Summit

President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised alliance unity in support of Ukraine as they discussed the upcoming NATO summit in Lithuania.

Two men dressed in business suits smile and talk.
Leaders Meeting
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President Joe Biden meet at the White House, June 13, 2023.
Photo By: NATO photo
VIRIN: 230613-D-D0439-002

Biden hosted Stoltenberg for an Oval Office meeting and praised him for his leadership during a tumultuous time. Stoltenberg is due to step down as secretary general in September after serving in the position since 2014. 

"We saw each other last in Warsaw, [Poland]," Biden said during the meeting. "You said it, and I agree: The NATO allies have never been more united. We both worked like hell to make sure that happened. And so far, so good." 

The two men met just after Biden approved another $325 million presidential drawdown to supply Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion of that country. 

"We've strengthened NATO's eastern flank, made it clear that we'll defend every inch of NATO territory. And I say it again: The commitment of the United States to NATO's Article 5 is rock solid," the president said. 

Stoltenberg thanked Biden for his leadership and for his strong commitment to the transatlantic bond. The secretary general also thanked the U.S. Congress and the American people for standing up for Ukraine. 

"[The] European allies and Canada are also doing their part, with tens of billions in military and economic support for Ukraine," Stoltenberg said. "The support that we are providing together to Ukraine is now making a difference on the battlefield as we speak — because the offensive is launched, and the Ukrainians are making progress, making advances." 

Two men dressed in business suits sit in a room and talk.
Leaders Meeting
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President Joe Biden meet at the White House, June 13, 2023.
Photo By: NATO photo
VIRIN: 230613-O-D0439-001A

The Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russia is still in its early days, but the more area the Ukrainian military can liberate, the stronger the hand of government leaders against the Russians, Stoltenberg said.  

The NATO leader emphasized that Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot win this war on Ukraine. "We also have to realize that Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine was not only an attack on Ukraine, but also on our core values and on free people everywhere," he said. 

A Russian victory would not only be a tragedy for Ukrainians, but also make the world more dangerous, he said. A Russian victory would "send a message to authoritarian leaders all over the world — also in China — that when they use military force, they get what they want, and we will then become more vulnerable," Stoltenberg said. "It's in our security interest to support Ukraine." 

The two men said the goal at the summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next month is to sustain and step-up support to Ukraine and further strengthen the alliance's deterrence. 

They also pledged to strengthen NATO's partnership with Indo-Pacific partners. 

Stoltenberg and Biden made a point of saying they look forward to welcoming Sweden into the alliance at the Vilnius summit. 

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