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NATO leaders seek to bolster Ukraine as gloom grows

July 11, 2024 00:00:00

NATO leaders and Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gather for a family photo at the NATO 75th Anniversary ceremony at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC, USA on Tuesday. — AFP

WASHINGTON, July 10 (AFP): NATO leaders meet Wednesday for their 75th anniversary, seeking ways to ramp up support for Ukraine as deadly Russian strikes and political uncertainties in the West stir new concerns.

With the pomp of a summit in Washington, President Joe Biden is aiming to rally the West and also reassure US voters amid intense pre-election scrutiny on whether at 81 -- six years older than the alliance-he remains fit for the job.

Kicking off three days of events for the 32-nation alliance with a celebration Tuesday evening, Biden announced a new air defence system for Kyiv and urged unity against Russian President Vladimir Putin, who launched the Ukraine invasion in 2022.

"Make no mistake. Ukraine can-and will-stop Putin," Biden said forcefully to applause.

On the eve of the summit, Russia fired a barrage of missiles on Ukraine, killing dozens, including in Kyiv where a children's hospital was reduced to debris.

Biden has invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the summit as well as the leaders of four key Pacific partners-Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand-as he seeks to increase NATO's role in managing a rising China.

But the US president himself is facing a tough election challenge from Donald Trump, who has loudly questioned the utility of NATO and mused on forcing a peace deal in which Ukraine would surrender land to Russia.

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