WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden wants NATO allies to step up to the plate with commitments to increase defense spending by September, as he outlined the demolition of U.S.-Russia relations in a speech Wednesday.
Biden, speaking at the Atlantic Council’s “Toward a Europe Whole and Free” conference, said he hoped NATO members would move quickly, referring to an upcoming NATO summit in September in Wales.
“We hope that by Wales, all NATO members will have increased their commitments to NATO ... and to their own defense budgets,” he said.
The United States has been moving to assure allies that it will join in defense efforts, including an announcement Tuesday by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney that President Obama would add a stopover in Poland when he heads to Europe for the G-7 summit in June.
Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced new troop rotations throughout Eastern Europe. The Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team is sending companies of infantry soldiers to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia for training and advising missions.
The Atlantic Council conference, taking place here on Tuesday and Wednesday, has focused on the role NATO plays in European security, including the question of whether aspiring members should be quickly added to the organization.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that one reason for his aggressive actions in Crimea and Ukraine was the expansion of NATO in Eastern Europe.
Biden was quick to dismiss that claim, saying the current crisis was “born in the Kremlin, born in Putin’s mind; it had nothing to do with the expansion of NATO.”