November 26, 2022

U.S. to accept 100,000 refugees from Ukraine but not from Ethiopia’s Tigray region where thousands have been killed and millions forcibly displaced

President Joe Biden boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House en route to Joint Base Andrews, Wednesday, December 8, 2021, for his trip to Kansas City, Missouri. (Official White House Photo by Erin Scott)
President Joe Biden boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House en route to Joint Base Andrews, Wednesday, December 8, 2021, for his trip to Kansas City, Missouri. (Official White House Photo by Erin Scott)

Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 09:34 am

The White House announced on Thursday that the United States will accept up to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine and others fleeing Russia’s invasion that has forcibly displaced more than 3.5 million people. In Ethiopia’s Tigray region where thousands of people have been killed and millions have been forcibly displaced within and outside Ethiopia and hundreds of thousands remain at an increased risk of famine, the United States has not extended the same favor being given to white Europeans.

Just yesterday, Wednesday, the World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus lamented that people in the Tigray region of Ethiopia were “starving to death” and in need of food more than medicine.

Speaking at a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr. Ghebreyesus called for an end to the humanitarian blockade in the region, 500 days since the siege on Tigray began, warning that the situation is so bad that “people are starving to death” and “giving them food is more important than medicine.”

The WHO chief said the Ethiopian government has granted access into the region, but much more is needed. He said only 4 percent of Tigray’s medical needs have been supplied so far.

“Although Ukraine is rightly the focus of the world’s attention, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the many other crises in which people are suffering,” he said. “Last week, I spoke about the humanitarian disaster in Tigray, and that WHO was still waiting for permission to send an additional 95 metric tonnes of medical supplies. Since then, permission has been granted. If we can deliver these supplies safely, they will help people in desperate need, but much more is needed. So far, only 4% of the needs for health supplies have been delivered to Tigray. That is insignificant.”

The WHO chief added that “the region has been under siege for almost 500 days, with dire shortages of fuel and food. People are starving to death. Actually, giving them food is more important than medicine. We continue to call on Ethiopia and Eritrea to end the blockade.”

100,000 refugees from Ukraine

The White House said that while it expects most Ukrainians to remain in Europe, the United States will welcome 100,000 of them through what it described as “the full range of legal pathways, including the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.”

“While we expect many Ukrainians will choose to remain in Europe close to family and their homes in Ukraine, today, the United States is announcing plans to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russia’s aggression through the full range of legal pathways, including the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program,” the White House wrote in a fact sheet. “In particular, we are working to expand and develop new programs with a focus on welcoming Ukrainians who have family members in the United States.”

The White House added that the United States and the European Union are also coordinating closely to ensure that “these efforts, and other forms of humanitarian admission or transfers, are complementary and provide much-needed support to Ukraine’s neighbors.”

The United States, the European Union and other seven nations, also announced a new round of sanctions against more than 400 Russian individuals and entities, including lawmakers and defense companies.

G-7 leaders also warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against using chemical or nuclear weapons in Ukraine, and announced plans to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.

“NATO leaders met today on the one-month anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine to reiterate our strong support for the Ukrainian people, our determination to hold Russia accountable for its brutal war, and our commitment to strengthening the NATO Alliance. We had the privilege of hearing directly from President Zelenskyy, and we will continue to support him and his government with significant, and increasing, amounts of security assistance to fight Russian aggression and uphold their right to self-defense,” President Biden wrote in a statement.

“In the past few weeks, the United States has announced $1 billion in new security assistance to Ukraine — anti-aircraft systems, anti-armor weapons, drones, and millions of rounds of ammunition. I welcome the steps by many other Allies to provide defensive support to Ukraine and together, we are committed to identifying additional equipment, including air defense systems, to help Ukraine. 

“We also discussed our work to bolster NATO’s collective defense, particularly on the Eastern flank. Our joint statement today makes clear that NATO is as strong and united as it has ever been. Immediately after Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine, we activated NATO’s defensive plans and the NATO Response Force. The United States has surged thousands of forces and additional capabilities to Europe, and we have welcomed the new deployments made by our Allies. Today’s establishment of four new battle groups in Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary is a strong signal that we will collectively defend and protect every inch of NATO territory. Between now and the NATO summit in June, we will develop plans for additional forces and capabilities to strengthen NATO’s defenses. We will adopt an updated Strategic Concept to ensure NATO is ready to meet any challenge in the new and more dangerous security environment.”

NATO leaders meet in Brussels, Belgium, on March 25, 2022 — one month after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Read all the White House factsheets on sanctions and other announcements below

FACT SHEET: The Biden Administration Announces New Humanitarian, Development, and Democracy Assistance to Ukraine and the Surrounding Region

The United States is proud to be the largest single donor of humanitarian, democracy, and human rights assistance to Ukraine, working closely with our European partners. We remain committed to ensuring those affected by President Putin’s war of aggression, especially vulnerable populations such as women, children, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons, and persons with disabilities, are able to access food, clean water, shelter, and medical care. In addition to assisting people in need within Ukraine, we are supporting the efforts of Ukraine’s neighbors and the European Union to welcome and host millions of refugees. And we will do our part to welcome Ukrainians to the United States. 
 
Today, the United States is announcing that we are prepared to provide more than $1 billion in new funding towards humanitarian assistance for those affected by Russia’s war in Ukraine and its severe impacts around the world, including a marked rise in food insecurity, over the coming months. This funding will provide food, shelter, clean water, medical supplies and other forms of assistance. We are also announcing an additional $320 million in democracy and human rights funding to Ukraine and its neighbors. Since 2021, the United States has provided over $1.1 billion in economic, health, democracy and human rights, and humanitarian assistance to the Europe and Eurasia region.
 
In addition to our humanitarian assistance, the United States continues to support public health initiatives in Ukraine and the region to tamp down the spread of communicable diseases like polio, tuberculosis, and COVID, and to help ensure patients continue to have access to medical care. And we remain committed to defending and strengthening democratic governance, human rights, and the fight against corruption in Ukraine and its neighbors, as together we reject autocracy and aggression. 

  • Providing refuge to Displaced Ukrainians. While we expect many Ukrainians will choose to remain in Europe close to family and their homes in Ukraine, today, the United States is announcing plans to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russia’s aggression through the full range of legal pathways, including the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. In particular, we are working to expand and develop new programs with a focus on welcoming Ukrainians who have family members in the United States. The United States and the European Union are also coordinating closely to ensure that these efforts, and other forms of humanitarian admission or transfers, are complementary and provide much-needed support to Ukraine’s neighbors.
     
  • Supporting humanitarian assistance in Ukraine. Today, the Biden Administration is announcing that we are prepared to provide more than $1 billion in new funding towards humanitarian assistance to support people within Ukraine and assist those affected by the global impacts of Russia’s war. This support builds on the 25-person humanitarian response team the United States has deployed to the region to assess needs, provide assistance, and coordinate closely with the United Nations, NGOs, and the Government of Ukraine, including the State Emergency Services of Ukraine. With the support of the United States and Allies and partners, the World Food Programme is working to reach 3.1 million people in Ukraine with ready-to-eat rations, canned goods, bread, wheat, flour, and oil. U.S.-funded humanitarian organizations in Ukraine are operating mobile medical teams and delivering emergency health supplies and medicine to public health care centers, enabling continued primary health services, trauma care, and vaccinations. In collective shelters in places like Mariupol or Lviv, humanitarian organizations are distributing blankets, water containers, and hygiene kits containing soap, toothpaste, diapers, and toilet paper to help thousands of internally displaced persons and mitigate the spread of disease. Mobile teams are also providing psychological support, ensuring especially vulnerable populations have access to services and are protected from risks, including gender-based violence, child-trafficking, and landmines.
     
  • Helping those who have fled in the region. Since February 24, the United States has already provided more than $123 million to complement the work of neighboring countries and the European Union to receive and host millions of refugees, including $48 million in Poland, $30 million in Moldova, $10 million in Romania, $9 million in Hungary, and $4 million in the Slovak Republic. U.S.-funded humanitarian organizations are working in partnership with host governments to launch cash programs that provide refugees with temporary assistance for food, accommodations, and medical care until they can work or receive social support. In addition to counselling, legal aid, and mental health and psychological support, U.S. partners are providing health support for refugees including infection prevention and control, and sexual and reproductive health assistance, as well as providing safe drinking water, strengthening sanitation infrastructure, and providing refugees with basic household items and shelter materials. The U.S. has deployed refugee coordinators to the region to work with the governments of neighboring countries, the UN, and other humanitarian organizations, and donors. Additionally, the U.S. has allocated $5.5 million to facilitate the safe and orderly return of up to 20,000 third-country nationals to return home from Ukraine.
     
  • Bolstering democracy and human rights in Ukraine and neighboring states. In line with President Biden’s commitment to support democracy and human rights globally, the United States is launching the European Democratic Resilience Initiative (EDRI), which is intended to provide at least $320 million in new funding to support societal resilience and defend human rights in Ukraine and neighboring countries. The EDRI is expected to support media freedom and counter disinformation, increase the safety and security of activists and vulnerable groups including LGBTQI+ persons, build resilience to strategic corruption and kleptocracy, strengthen democratic and anti-corruption institutions and the region’s rule of law, and support accountability for human rights abuses and violations of international law. Implementation of the EDRI will be closely coordinated with the European Union and other partners.
     
  • Advancing accountability for Russian war crimes in Ukraine. An important component of EDRI will be support for efforts to document and preserve evidence of potential war crimes being committed in Ukraine. The United States is already supporting several such initiatives. New lines of effort, including the establishment of a conflict observatory, will gather information that can be shared with a range of accountability efforts at the national and international level designed to hold Russia accountable for its actions.
     
  • Protecting children and other vulnerable populations. Russia’s unprovoked further invasion of Ukraine poses an immediate and growing threat to the lives and well-being of the country’s 7.5 million children who face attacks on schools, injuries from mines and explosives, and child trafficking. In response, in both Ukraine and surrounding countries, the United States has been supporting Children and Family Protection Support Hubs where professional case workers, mental health professionals, and legal aid providers are available to assist children, female heads of household, those with disabilities, older persons and other vulnerable populations. These centers offer safe spaces for psychosocial support, hygiene, health and nutrition; provide family tracing for unaccompanied children; as well as protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. With support to nine different organizations, the United States is also supporting 55 mobile protection teams to prevent family separation, mitigate gender-based violence, communicate the risks of mines and war remnants, and address the psychological effects of war. 
     
  • Strengthening public health. Since February 24, the U.S. government has rapidly accelerated support to the Ukrainian health system and systems in the region, on top of previously funded programs. Inside Ukraine, U.S. government partners are providing critical medical commodities, expanded immunization support to areas experiencing an influx of internally displaced persons, and supporting continuity of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS treatment services to ensure patients do not lose access to lifesaving treatments – including through procuring $6.1 million worth of antiretroviral drugs, re-purposing of mobile HIV testing vans, and expanded support to patients and home delivery of medicines. The U.S. government is also supporting the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization with technical assistance on issues such as immunization, outbreak response, blood safety, and overall emergency response coordination. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also supporting the Ministry of Health to consolidate medicine needs from over 5,000 public, private, and academic institutions in order to guide and prioritize humanitarian assistance efforts, while helping the Ministry of Health to shift and expand warehousing and medicines delivery capacity. The U.S. government is also working with the Public Health Center of Ukraine to roster all CDC-trained graduates of the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) in-country and support relocation of critical public health equipment and personnel within Ukraine, to mitigate the impacts of the Russian invasion on public health infrastructure. These teams are augmenting the humanitarian response by monitoring the health conditions of the Ukraine population, including refugees and internally displaced persons with focus on COVID-19, HIV, TB, measles, polio, mental health, non-communicable diseases, and maternal and child health.
     
  • Defending global food security. Russia’s war of aggression threatens to disrupt the supply of critical agricultural commodities from the Black Sea region, jeopardizing global food security, particularly for vulnerable populations in the Middle East and Africa. The United States, through the Feed the Future initiative and our nutrition commitments, will be providing over $11 billion over the next five years to address food security threats and malnutrition across the globe – with programming in many of the countries vulnerable to increases in food and fertilizer prices. Ongoing activities within the initiative that help buffer food systems against macroeconomic shocks like the Russian invasion of Ukraine include: increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers, including women, through access to improved agricultural technologies and inputs, financing, and markets; strengthening agricultural market systems by building a vibrant local private sector; and improving people’s access to higher quality diets and safer food for improved nutrition. Additionally, the United States will remain one of the top providers of humanitarian food and nutrition assistance globally, having contributed approximately $4.6 billion in humanitarian food and nutrition assistance in 2021.

FACT SHEET: United States and Allies and Partners Impose Additional Costs on Russia

United States sanctions over 400 Russian elites, Duma members, and defense companies in coordination with the European Union and G7; U.S. has now sanctioned over 600 targets
 
G7 and EU announce sanctions evasion initiative to prevent circumvention and backfilling of our unprecedented sanctions; continue to blunt Central Bank of the Russian Federation’s ability to deploy international reserves including gold

President Biden is in Europe to continue our historic coordination with allies and partners on all aspects of our response to Russia’s war against Ukraine, including imposing further severe costs on those enabling President Putin’s war of choice. Today, the United States is sanctioning over 400 individuals and entities comprised of Russian elites, the Duma and more than 300 of its members, and defense companies, aligning and strengthening our sanctions in close coordination and partnership with the EU and G7. 
 
Our sanctions on Russia are unprecedented — in no other circumstance have we moved so swiftly and in such a coordinated fashion to impose devastating costs on any other country. The ruble has depreciated substantially, and is expected by markets to weaken further. The Moscow Stock Exchange closed for weeks. The Central Bank of the Russian Federation has doubled interest rates to 20 percent and companies are being forced to turn over foreign exchange for rubles to provide the Russian Government hard currency. The economy is forecast to contract as much as 15 percent or more in 2022. This economic collapse of Russia’s GDP will wipe out the past 15 years of economic gains in Russia, according to the Institute for International Finance. Inflation in Russia is already spiking, with analysts projecting it to rise up to 15 percent on a year-over-year basis, and the Russian Government has been downgraded to “junk” status by major credit rating agencies. More than 400 multinational companies have left Russia in a mass exodus by the private sector. 
 
As long as President Putin continues this war, the United States and allies and partners are committed to ensuring the Russian government feels the compounding effects of our current and future economic actions. 
 
Today’s actions include: 

Full blocking sanctions on more than 400 individuals and entities, including the Duma and its members, additional Russian elites, and Russian defense companies that fuel Putin’s war machine. This includes: 

  • 328 Duma members and sanctioning the Duma as an entity.
  • Herman Gref, the head of Russia’s largest financial institution Sberbank and a Putin advisor since the 1990s. 
  • Russian elite Gennady Timchenko, his companies and his family members.
  • 17 board members of Russian financial institution Sovcombank.
  • 48 Large Russian defense state-owned enterprises that are part of Russia’s defense-industrial base and produce weapons that have been used in Russia’s assault against Ukraine’s people, infrastructure, and territory, including Russian Helicopters, Tactical Missiles Corporation, High Precision Systems, NPK Tekhmash OAO, Kronshtadt. We are targeting, and will continue to target, the suppliers of Russia’s war effort and, in turn, their supply chain.

Establishment of an initiative focused on sanctions evasions. G7 leaders and the European Union today announced an initiative to share information about and coordinate responses related to evasive measures intended to undercut the effectiveness and impact of our joint sanctions actions. Together, we will not allow sanctions evasion or backfilling. As part of this effort, we will also engage other governments on adopting sanctions similar to those already imposed by the G7 and other partners. 
 
Continuing to blunt the Central Bank’s ability to deploy international reserves, including gold, to prop up the Russian economy and fund Putin’s brutal war. G7 leaders and the European Union will continue to work jointly to blunt Russia’s ability to deploy its international reserves to prop up Russia’s economy and fund Putin’s war, including by making clear that any transaction involving gold related to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation is covered by existing sanctions.

Statement from President Biden on the Extraordinary NATO Summit 

NATO leaders met today on the one-month anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine to reiterate our strong support for the Ukrainian people, our determination to hold Russia accountable for its brutal war, and our commitment to strengthening the NATO Alliance. We had the privilege of hearing directly from President Zelenskyy, and we will continue to support him and his government with significant, and increasing, amounts of security assistance to fight Russian aggression and uphold their right to self-defense. 

In the past few weeks, the United States has announced $1 billion in new security assistance to Ukraine — anti-aircraft systems, anti-armor weapons, drones, and millions of rounds of ammunition. I welcome the steps by many other Allies to provide defensive support to Ukraine and together, we are committed to identifying additional equipment, including air defense systems, to help Ukraine. 

We also discussed our work to bolster NATO’s collective defense, particularly on the Eastern flank. Our joint statement today makes clear that NATO is as strong and united as it has ever been. Immediately after Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine, we activated NATO’s defensive plans and the NATO Response Force. The United States has surged thousands of forces and additional capabilities to Europe, and we have welcomed the new deployments made by our Allies. Today’s establishment of four new battle groups in Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary is a strong signal that we will collectively defend and protect every inch of NATO territory. Between now and the NATO summit in June, we will develop plans for additional forces and capabilities to strengthen NATO’s defenses. We will adopt an updated Strategic Concept to ensure NATO is ready to meet any challenge in the new and more dangerous security environment.
 


 Background Press Call on President Biden’s Meetings at NATO


 Via Teleconference11:53 A.M. CET

MODERATOR:  Well, good morning, everyone.  And thank you for joining the White House background call on the President’s trip to Europe.  As a reminder of the ground rules, this call will be on background, attributable to “senior administration officials.”

For your awareness but not for your reporting, the three officials joining us on our call today are [senior administration officials]. 

We will have two sections of the call today.  The first will be a recap of the President’s time at NATO, which will be embargoed until the call concludes.  The second section, which previews the G7 and EU meetings, will be embargoed until this afternoon at 2:15 p.m. Central European Time, or 9:15 a.m. Eastern Time.

With that, I’ll turn it over to our first speaker, [senior administration official], for the first section of the call.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks.  And good morning, almost good afternoon, to everyone.  I just stepped out of the listening room where I have been for the last hour or so, and I’m happy to share a little bit of color from what’s been happening in the meeting.

So, Secretary General Stoltenberg opened the meeting.  I’m sure all of you saw his open remarks, which were open to press. Then the leaders went into a closed session. 
 
As I think everyone is tracking, President Zelenskyy was beamed in via video link from Ukraine to address the group.  He spoke very eloquently, as he has to a number of national parliaments in recent weeks, with a message very much focused on the efforts of the Ukrainian military and people to defend their country, to defend their citizens, and also to defend our shared democratic values.

He repeated his requests for continued and increased Western security assistance.  But notably, there was not a request for a no-fly zone.  There was also not a request for NATO membership in his remarks.

Following his intervention, he departed on the video link, and the members moved into a closed session among the Alliance.

After him, the President was the first speaker.  He set out the three-pronged approach that we have taken throughout this this crisis, noting that today marks the one-month anniversary of the launch of Russian military aggression against Ukraine.

First, he talked about everything that we have done to impose costs on Russia, including the very significant package of sanctions. 

Second, he reiterated our strong support for Ukraine, both in terms of security assistance — increased and continued security assistance, as well as humanitarian assistance that we were continuing to provide to those both in Ukraine and to those fleeing the violence.

And third, a very strong message of support for NATO — reaffirming the U.S. commitment to Article 5 and the steps that the United States, in partnership with other Allies, had taken in recent weeks to reinforce the security of the eastern flank.
 
As part of that, speaking more generally: In terms of the Alliance, he talked about force posture adjustments, as I mentioned.  He welcomed the similar moves that we have seen from a number of countries to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank.  He welcomed the increased defense spending pledges that we have seen from a number of countries, as well as the ongoing robust exercises that are continuing.

Finally, he looked ahead to the Madrid summit, which will be in about two and a half months in late June, and laid out a number of issues that the Alliance is going to have to grapple with in advance of that summit, given the changed security context that we see ourselves in and as the Alliance is finalizing the strategic concept that will be addressing a number of these changes in security architecture.

By the time I left the room, I think about six leaders had spoken.  So, just to give you a sense of the mood: First, there was a very strong sense that we are facing a significant, historical moment, and very strong support from all of the leaders who spoke about the need to defend our democracy, the need to defend our shared values, and a strong sense that NATO was appropriately poised to be able to do that.

Second and relatedly, there was a very strong message of unity — notes of how united the NATO Alliance was, notes of unity across the transatlantic alliance; very strong support for NATO, for its Article 5 commitments; a number of leaders speaking about increases in their own defense spending; and also notes about changes that various countries have made in terms of force posture, particularly with what we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks with a significant movement of NATO forces to NATO’s eastern flank to defend the security of Allies there.

Third, very strong admiration for the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian people in terms of everything they are doing to defend their country from Russian aggression.

There was also very strong pledges of support from across the Allies that I heard speak about their readiness to continue, as well as increase, their security assistance to Ukraine.

Related to that, many of the leaders also spoke about the importance of economic sanctions and the need for us to continue imposing robust economic costs on Russia in response to its aggression.

Related to that: On the Ukrainian people, very strong support for refugees; a lot of appreciation to the eastern flank Allies that have been bearing the brunt of the crisis; and continued pledges by Allies to continue contributing financially to the humanitarian assistance, as well as, of course, a number of these countries taking in refugees themselves.

And just a final note: There was also a reference by many of the speakers to China and a recognition that China needs to live up to its responsibilities within the international community as a U.N. Security Council member, that we need to continue to call on China not to support Russia in its aggression against Ukraine, and that we need China to call for a peaceful end to the conflict as a responsible member of the international community.

So the mood overall has been sober, it’s been resolute, and it’s been incredibly united. 
So let me stop there with my opening comments.

MODERATOR:  Thank you so much, [senior administration official].  With that, we’ll open it up to a couple of questions on the NATO portion before we move on to the second portion of the call, which will be EU and G7 specific.

If I can ask everyone who has a question to please indicate you have one using the “raise hand” feature.

Josh Wingrove from Bloomberg.  I saw your hand up first.

Q    Thank you very much.  Hello from the travel pool.  Thank you for doing this.  Can you give me a sense of what President Zelenskyy did ask for if he didn’t mention NATO membership and didn’t mention the closure? 
And also, NBC is reporting that 100,000 refugees — the U.S. will announce a pledge to take in 100,000 refugees.  Is there anything you can tell us on that in particular that we could publish before any later embargo? 

Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Great.  Thank you for that.

So, on your question about refugees, I don’t want to steal any thunder from my colleague, so let me defer that to the later part of the call where [senior administration official] is going to have more information specifically on some of our refugees and humanitarian assistance.

In terms of President Zelenskyy’s comments, I will let the Ukrainian government speak for themselves in terms of what specifically Zelenskyy conveyed to leaders in what was a closed, private session to leaders.

What I can say is that President Biden was very clear in his remarks about the security assistance that the U.S. has continued to provide, underscoring the $2 billion that we have provided over the last year, underscoring the billion dollars in new security assistance to Ukraine that we have just announced; talked in some specifics, as he has done previously, about the additional types of assistance that we have been providing to Ukraine. 
And then, just more broadly, I would say that we have started consulting with Allies on providing anti-ship missiles to Ukraine.  There may be some technical challenges with making that happen, but that is something that we are consulting with Allies and starting to work on.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Next, we go to Kevin Liptak with CNN.

Q  Hi.  Thank you.  Yesterday, Jake said that discussion of Russia’s potential use of chemical or biological or nuclear weapons would come up in all these discussions.  I wonder if you could say whether that came up at NATO today and what the leaders — what was — if there was a consensus among the leaders about whether NATO would be obliged to respond to the use of those kinds of weapons should that take place.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, there were some references to that.  I think there is a recognition that NATO needs to continue a lot of the good, ongoing work to be prepared to respond to various contingencies.  It’s something that NATO, as a military alliance, is already postured to do, and it’s something that they recognize that they need to continue to do given the various scenarios that could emerge as part of this conflict.
 
The United States is already taking steps both nationally, as well as through NATO, to enhance the readiness and capability of our defense forces to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear incidents.  Frankly, for NATO, this is an important part of strengthening our longer-term defense and deterrence postures.
 
NATO has a Combined Joint CBRN Defence Task Force, which is an element of the NATO Response Force, which is prepared to deploy at SACEUR’s direction.  This includes specially trained and equipped forces who are able to deal with these types of incidents if there are attacks against NATO populations, territory, or forces. 
 
And NATO Allies are also continuing to consult, as well as to take national decisions, to be able to provide on a bilateral basis protective equipment and medical countermeasures to help Ukraine detect, identify, and respond to these types of threats.
 
So, in sum, yes, it was a subject that came up in discussion today and I assume is a continuing part of the ongoing discussion.
 
Second, there are broader conversations within NATO about how to respond to these types of incidents.
 
And third, some NATO Allies are already taking national decisions to be able to respond to, potentially, Ukrainian needs on these threats as well.
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you.  And then we’ll do one more question from Chris Megerian with AP.  After that, we’ll move on to the second portion.
 
Q    Hi, everybody.  I wanted to see if you could talk any more about force posture adjustments.  What specifically are we speaking about?
 
And then on China, when you said that China needs to do more, what specifically do you want to see them do more or see them stop doing?
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks for that.  So, in terms of force posture, there was considerable discussion by leaders about the number of changes that have already been made across the Alliance.  I think what we’ve seen within the last couple of weeks with NATO Allies acting with great unity and speed to deploy additional defensive forces and capabilities in response to renewed Russian aggression against Ukraine.
 
NATO activated its response plans.  It deployed the NATO Response Force.  It increased NATO’s readiness.  And there’s now approximately 40,000 Allied forces under direct NATO command with particular emphasis on the eastern flank.
 
As part of that, the United States has already deployed thousands of additional forces to Europe.  There’s now approximately 100,000 U.S. forces on land, in the air, at sea, training, exercising, and ready to defer — or to deter and defend against any threat.
 
So, in the parts of the meeting that I was in, there was a lot of recognition about the steps that the U.S. has taken and, frankly, that a large number of other Allies have taken to move their forces to the eastern flank as well.
 
And in terms of China, I would refer to what I had said earlier in terms of similar messages that Stoltenberg himself actually has given within the last couple of days as well: that there is a desire for China to live up to its responsibilities within the international community, clearly a strong desire for Russia [China] not to provide economic or military assistance to Russia in furtherance of its aggression against Ukraine, and for China to join with other responsible members of the international community in calling on Russia to end its violence.
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you.  And with that, that concludes the first portion of the call, which, as a reminder, is embargoed until this call concludes.
 
12:08 P.M. CET

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