Joe Biden vows US ‘standing strong’ with Ukraine on France state visit

PARIS: President Joe Biden on Saturday vowed Washington was “standing strong” with Ukraine as French counterpart Emmanuel Macron hosted him on a state visit shadowed by Kyiv’s fight against Russia‘s invasion and the looming US election.
Speaking after visiting Normandy earlier this week to mark 80 years since D-Day, Biden repeatedly emphasised the value of America’s European alliances in a swipe at his more isolationist election rival Donald Trump.
With Ukraine struggling to repel Russian advances over two years into the war and in desperate need of greater Western military aid, Biden insisted that under his rule the United States would not flinch in its support.
“Putin is not going to stop at Ukraine,” Biden said alongside Macron after talks at the Elysee Palace.
“All of Europe will be threatened, we are not going to let that happen,” Biden said.
“The United States is standing strong with Ukraine. We will not, I say it again, walk away,” he added.
Biden, 81, is set to face his Republican rival and predecessor Trump later this year in presidential elections that commentators predict will subject US democracy to a severe test.
Trump has also signalled his lack of interest in international organisations including Nato and previously boasted he could solve the Ukraine conflict within 24 hours if elected.
Macron, 46, emphasised the unity with the United States under Biden and expressed gratitude for his counterpart’s approach to Europe.
“I thank you, Mr President, for being the president of the world’s number one power but doing it with the loyalty of a partner who likes and respects the Europeans,” he said.
He said Paris and Washington also shared the same views on Iran, accusing Tehran of pursuing a “strategy of escalation at all levels”.
“Our two countries are determined to exert the necessary pressure to stop this trend,” he said.
Biden has been in France since Wednesday and took part in this week’s commemorations marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in northern France involving US, British, Canadian and other foreign troops that changed the course of World War II.
Also invited to the ceremonies was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who told Biden in a bilateral meeting Friday that Kyiv was counting on “shoulder-to-shoulder” support.
Expressing regret over how an aid package for Ukraine was held up in the US legislature, Biden said: “I wish we could have done it when we wanted to six months earlier but we got it done.”
The United States and France are two of Kyiv’s main Western backers since Russia unleashed its full-scale invasion of its neighbour in February 2022.
The US leader met Macron for talks at the Elysee Palace, with the two men seen talking one-to-one at a table in the Elysee gardens under a sunshade on a warm Paris June afternoon.
“France was our first friend,” Biden said, referring to French support in the War of Independence against British colonial rule. “And remains one of our best ones,” he added.
During a welcome ceremony in Paris, Macron and Biden laid a wreath and rekindled the flame on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe.
They then drove down the Champs-Elysees, decked out in the colours of the two nations, flanked by 140 horses and 38 motorcyclists.
The US president and his wife Jill were later to return to the Elysee Palace for a state banquet given in Biden’s honour.
The week of high-profile events has provided both Biden and Macron an opportunity to burnish their image with voters.
Macron’s camp has faced an uphill struggle to narrow a gap with the far right ahead of European Parliament elections on Sunday.
After his own talks with Zelenskyy in Paris on Friday evening, Macron said he wanted to “finalise” the creation of a coalition of military instructors to train Ukrainian troops in the coming days.
Macron also lashed out at what he called a “camp of pacifists” and the “spirit of defeat” over Ukraine’s fight against Russia, vowing Ukrainian resistance would not end with capitulation.


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