MADRID – President Joe Biden vowed Thursday the U.S. and its NATO allies would back Ukraine "for as long as it takes" in its war with Russia.
Russia is paying "a very, very heavy price" for its decision to invade Ukraine, Biden said, during a news conference in Madrid at the close of a six-day trip to Europe, which included a summit of NATO leaders.
Earlier this month, Moscow defaulted on its national debt for the first time in a century and its economy has suffered because of sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its NATO allies.
Biden said Russia has lost its "international standing" and suffered another military setback with its withdrawal of forces from Snake Island, a strategically important island that sits along a busy shipping lane in the Black Sea and has come to symbolize Ukrainian resistance to the invasion.
"I don't know how it's going to end," Biden said of the war, "but it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine."
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NATO leaders declared Russia as the “most significant and direct threat” to their members’ peace and security and vowed to strengthen their support for Ukraine.
Biden pledged to boost U.S. military strength in eastern Europe, including establishing a permanent presence in Poland and enhancing rotational deployments in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
The U.S. said it also is sending two additional F-35 squadrons to the UK, stationing two more destroyers in Spain and will improve defense capabilities in Germany and Italy.
Before his arrival in Spain on Tuesday, Biden huddled with leaders of the world’s economic powerhouses at the Group of Seven summit in Germany.
G7 leaders moved closer to capping the price that countries can pay for Russian oil as a way to restrict Putin’s cash flow and bring down prices at the pump.
'A KICK IN THE GUT': Finland's, Sweden's drive to join NATO a defeat for Putin, a win for the West
NATO expansion: NATO leaders have formally invited Sweden and Finland to join the alliance. The invitation comes after Turkey dropped its objections to the Nordic nations’ membership.
Months to go: Final approval could still be months away because the legislative bodies of all 30 NATO countries must vote to accept their membership.
Food security: Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met on the sidelines of the NATO summit Wednesday. Biden praised the Turkish leader for dropping his opposition to Finland and Sweden joining the NATO alliance and lauded Erdoğan's work to address food insecurity stemming from the war in Ukraine.
Biden calls Roe v. Wade ruling 'outrageous'
Biden's trip to Europe was largely overshadowed by domestic issues, including a Supreme Court decision overturning the constitutional right to an abortion and blockbuster testimony before the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, mob attack against the Capitol.
In his news conference, Biden said the Supreme Court ruling on abortion has been "destabilizing."
“We’ve been a leader in the world in terms of personal rights and privacy rights, and it is a mistake in my view for the Supreme Court to do what it did,” he said.
The day before Biden left Washington, the Supreme Court handed down a 6-3 ruling last Friday that overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.
Biden called the ruling "outrageous" and said Congress must change the decision by codifying Roe v. Wade into law.
Boosting oil production ‘not the purpose’ of Saudi Arabia trip
Biden said his trip to Saudi Arabia next month is not aimed at getting the crown price to increase Saudi oil production to combat rising fuel costs in the U.S.
“That’s not the purpose of the trip,” Biden said, adding that the trip will focus on the broader Gulf region. “I’m in Saudi Arabia, but it’s not about Saudi Arabia.”
Biden has faced criticism for planning to meet with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents.
Biden said he expects he will see the crown prince and King Salman, but “they’ll be part of a much larger meeting.”
The president noted that his trip to the Middle East begins with a visit to Israel “to affirm the unbreakable bond” between it has with the U.S.
Francesca Chambers and Michael Collins cover the White House. Follow Chambers on Twitter @fran_chambers and Collins @mcollinsNEWS.
Contributing: Joey Garrison
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NATO: Biden vows U.S. will stand with Ukraine 'for as long as it takes'