(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden departs for Europe on Saturday in an effort to stave off cracks in the Western alliance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and shore up the global economy — amid domestic turmoil over abortions and guns.
Just after a historic Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade — and a bipartisan compromise in Congress on guns – the president turns to foreign policy with meetings in Germany and Spain.
He plans to gather with the leaders of the other “Group of Seven” major economic powers in Germany before flying to Spain to confer with NATO allies. There, he’ll seek to gain Turkey’s approval of Finland and Sweden’s bid to join the alliance in the face of Russia’s attack.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy plans to address both summits, according to a senior Biden administration official.
With G-7 leaders, solidifying global unity against Russia
When Biden last met in person with allies in Europe in March, they spoke with a unified voice about the need to harshly sanction Russia’s President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.
Now, four months from the start of the war and as the global economy continues to suffer, Biden will seek to stave off any fractures — particularly as Russia makes more gains on the battlefield and leaders worry about an even more protracted war.
Meeting with leaders at a resort in the Bavarian Alps on Sunday and Monday, Biden will push for “new commitments to further isolate Russia from the global economy, target the Russian defense supply chain and continue cracking down on the evasion of these unprecedented sanctions,” White House spokesman John Kirby said Thursday.
Kirby, who also said there would be “new commitments” related to energy and food prices, added Biden’s trip was taking “at a watershed moment in transatlantic solidarity in the post-Cold War era, not just for European security, but for an alignment like we’ve never seen before in how we confront some of the biggest challenges of our time. “
Convincing Turkey to allow Finland, Sweden to join NATO
Biden will head to Madrid for a NATO leaders’ summit on Tuesday. He’ll again seek to keep the defense alliance united against Putin while also pushing for its expansion.
The U.S. has embraced Finland and Sweden’s bids to join NATO, which would require all 30 current members’ agreement. But Turkey has so far blocked their applications over what it says is those countries’ support for Kurdish fighters it considers terrorists.
Kirby told reporters Thursday the U.S. was “confident” ongoing conversations between Turkey, Finland and Sweden would lead to both countries eventually joining the alliance, although he said he could not predict when that would happen.
Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand will also for the first time join the NATO leaders’ summit.
Domestic earthquakes overshadow trip
Biden plans to depart one day after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which in remarks Friday he called a “sad day” and a “very solemn moment” for America.
He also is leaving just after Congress passed gun safety legislation — the first major piece of federal gun reform in nearly three decades — and after the Supreme Court struck down a century-old New York law restricting the concealed carry of handguns.
These developments threaten to overshadow Biden’s trip and potentially distract the president as the United States reels from historic upheaval.
ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky, Justin Gomez and Molly Nagle contributed reporting.
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