Biden Snubs Allies

Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday evening, U.S. President Joe Biden caused a stir when he opted out of a scheduled dinner with NATO leaders, choosing instead to retire to his hotel in Lithuania. The president’s four-day packed schedule was cited as the reason for his absence, as he was reportedly preparing for a significant address the following day.

President Biden, who arrived in Europe on Sunday night and spent the previous day at the beach, was represented at the dinner by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. His decision to miss the dinner came after he expressed confidence in his re-election prospects to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, promising continued cooperation over the next five years.

Despite concerns related to his age and health, Biden, who would be 86 at the end of a second term, remained optimistic about his chances in the 2024 elections. Later, it was reported that upon his return to his accommodation, Biden was engaged in addressing the crisis of severe flooding in Vermont, conducting numerous phone calls.

He was in touch with Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott, Senator Bernie Sanders, and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, reiterating his commitment to ensure federal assistance to alleviate the flooding situation.

The NATO summit in Vilnius had an impressive guest list on its first evening, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In earlier interactions, Erdogan had appreciated Biden’s congratulatory remarks post his own election. Biden had responded affirmatively, anticipating a continued partnership over Erdogan’s five-year term.

In contrast to former President Donald Trump’s outspoken admiration for Erdogan, Biden’s interaction was more measured. On the same day, Erdogan managed to secure a deal for F-16 fighter aircraft from the U.S., while softening his stance on Sweden’s admission to NATO.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan confirmed in Vilnius that Biden was in favor of the jet transfer and planned to go ahead with it without any preconditions. While further details were left undisclosed, Biden’s comments about the jets and Sweden’s potential inclusion were made in a CNN interview prior to his London visit.

Biden maintained a composed demeanor after his remarks, declining to answer the volley of questions from U.S. reporters regarding the specifics of the Sweden deal.

In Vilnius, Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, a Biden supporter, praised the diplomatic progress, underlining the renewed strength of the alliance, which now included Finland and possibly Sweden.

Biden had earlier asserted his commitment to protecting all of NATO’s territories as the alliance prepared to incorporate its 32nd member.