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The United States will begin deploying long-range missiles in Germany in 2026, the two countries announced at a NATO alliance meeting Tuesday, a major step aimed at countering what the allies see as a growing threat Russia poses to Europe.

The move will send Germany the most powerful American weapons stationed on the European continent since the Cold War, in a clear warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A US-German statement said the “episodic deployments” were in preparation for a longer-term stationing in Europe of capabilities that would include the SM-6, the Tomahawk and hypersonic weapons in development with greater range.

The operation would have been prohibited under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987, but this was abolished in 2019.

“We cannot exclude the possibility of an attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Allies,” the allies said in a statement released Wednesday.

More aid is headed to Ukraine as allies back Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

A statement said the allies intended to provide Ukraine with at least 40 billion euros ($43.28 billion) in military aid over the next year, but stopped short of the multi-year commitment sought by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The document also reinforced NATO's language on China, calling it a “decisive enabler” of Russia's war effort in Ukraine and asserting that Beijing continues to pose systemic challenges to Euro-Atlantic security.

Stoltenberg told reporters that this was the first time the 32 allies had jointly called China a decisive facilitator of Russia's war and called it an important message.

He said NATO was not a sanctions organisation, but added: “Ultimately it will be the individual allies who make the decisions, but I think the message we are sending from NATO from this summit is very clear.”

Biden said in a speech Tuesday that NATO was “stronger than it has ever been” and that Ukraine could and would stop Russian President Vladimir Putin “with our full and collective support.”

On Wednesday, he said he was pleased that all NATO members were committed to expanding their industrial bases and developing defense production plans on their territory.

“We cannot let the Alliance fall behind,” Biden said. “We can and we will defend every inch of NATO territory, and we will do it together.”

At the White House, Biden and new British Prime Minister Keir Starmer had a deep exchange and shared laughs and congratulations on England's 2-1 victory over the Netherlands in the Euro 2024 soccer tournament.

Biden described the UK as the “knot” connecting the transatlantic NATO alliance and said the two countries must continue to cooperate.

Biden, 81, has faced questions about his fitness for office after failing to make the June 27 debate and is hoping the NATO spotlight will help him stage some kind of comeback, surrounded by the allied leaders he spent his three years in office cultivating.

The US presidential election in November, however, could herald a dramatic shift in Washington's support for Ukraine and NATO. Republican candidate Donald Trump, 78, has questioned the amount of aid given to Ukraine to fight the Russian invasion and US support for its allies in general.

TRUMP LEANS INTO THE ISSUE

On Wednesday, Trump told Fox News Radio that he would not pull the United States out of NATO but reiterated that he wanted members to pay more. “I just want them to pay their bills. We protect Europe. They take advantage of us in a very abusive way,” he said.

Trump had pressured congressional Republicans to block military aid to Ukraine before changing his mind.

Uncertainty over US leadership is unsettling NATO allies.

“If there is one thing that worries me in the United States, it is the polarization of the political climate – it is, I have to admit, very toxic,” Alexander Stubb, president of NATO member Finland, told reporters.

As Biden seeks to rally allies and domestic support, several senior European officials met with a top Trump foreign policy adviser at the summit.

The statement said the alliance would continue to support Ukraine “on its irreversible path towards full Euro-Atlantic integration, including NATO membership.” This formulation has been a major point of contention between the allies.

The statement also called on China to stop providing material and political support to Russia's war effort. It expressed concern about China's space capabilities, cited the rapid expansion of its nuclear arsenal, and urged Beijing to engage in negotiations on strategic risk reduction.

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