Biden hosts military leaders as Ukraine crisis escalates | world news

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden will summon top U.S. military leaders to an annual White House gathering on Wednesday that holds particular significance as the war in Ukraine enters a risky new phase and the United States plans more military aid.

A “variety of topics” will be discussed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior military leaders, a National Security Council spokesman said. The event includes a formal West Wing meeting as well as a dinner at the President’s residence with the leaders’ spouses afterwards.

While the annual military policy meeting rarely makes the news, important issues are on the agenda this year, topped by a conflict in Ukraine that officials say could jeopardize European security for years. coming.

Russia said it had entered a new stage in its operation and was methodically seeking to “liberate” the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine. Western allies predict that Russia’s campaign could last several months, hit a stalemate and test the capabilities of Ukrainian fighters on the battlefield.

Political cartoons about world leaders

The United States is expected to announce another military aid package for Ukraine in the coming days, which could match the $800 million pledged last week.

Russia says it launched what it calls a “special military operation” on February 24 to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine. kyiv and its Western allies dismiss this as a false pretense.

US forces are not fighting in Ukraine but are indirectly engaged, arming, training and financing forces in kyiv.

A protracted standoff could also test US public support for Washington’s support for Ukraine. Last month, Biden asked Congress for record peacetime spending on the military for the coming fiscal year.

The meeting comes amid questions over the future of NATO forces in Europe, including whether to set up a permanent presence on the defense alliance’s eastern border with Russia.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons and Cynthia Osterman)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

Christi C. Elwood