Biden Engages in High-Stakes Meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to Address Ukraine Conflict and Kyiv’s NATO Bid.
LONDON — President Joe Biden launches his European journey with a dynamic start, commencing his first full day in London, where he holds crucial discussions with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles III.
Amidst preparations for a significant NATO gathering in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, the Ukraine conflict takes center stage on Biden and Sunak’s agenda. The President emphasizes that the war must conclude before Kyiv can be considered for NATO membership.
The meeting follows the Pentagon’s recent announcement regarding the provision of cluster munitions to Ukraine to bolster its military capabilities in the face of Russian aggression—an action that Sunak has openly expressed his disapproval of.
Marine One, carrying President Biden, takes off from Windsor Castle outside London on Monday:
Biden and King Charles at Windsor
- 1 Biden and King Charles at Windsor
- 2 Biden and Sunak discussed Ukraine security, Downing Street says
- 3 Scholz: Israel-style security guarantees for Ukraine one of several options
- 4 Biden and Sunak discuss cluster munitions for Ukraine
- 5 What to expect from the NATO summit in Vilnius
- 6 Charles and Biden inspect the guard of honor at Windsor Castle
- 7 Biden meets Charles at Windsor Castle
- 8 Biden traveling to Windsor Castle with Blinken, senior White House officials
- 9 Biden departs 10 Downing St.
- 10 Biden and Sunak sit down for … tea?
- 11 War in Ukraine must end before Kyiv can join NATO, Biden says
- 12 Talks come as Sunak speaks out against use of cluster munitions
- 13 What to expect today
- 14 Biden kicks off Europe trip with London visit
Biden and Sunak discussed Ukraine security, Downing Street says
According to a spokesperson for Sunak, Biden and Sunak discussed the imperative of backing Kyiv in its efforts to bring the prolonged Ukraine conflict to a close, as it nears the 18-month milestone.
“They discussed the progress of the counter-offensive and emphasized the importance of the country’s international partners committing to its long-term defense, providing the support Ukraine needs to win this war and secure a just and lasting peace,” said the Downing Street aide.
As the NATO summit in Vilnius approaches, Ukraine intensifies its push for fresh security assurances, leading to anticipated discussions among the 31 attending leaders this week. However, consensus eludes the leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on the approach to ensuring Ukraine’s security.
Biden said of Ukraine in an interview with CNN that aired on Sunday, “I don’t think it’s ready for membership in NATO.” Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Sunak wants to discuss a pathway for Ukraine to join the NATO alliance but has not provided an “exact mechanism.”
Scholz: Israel-style security guarantees for Ukraine one of several options
Today, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz remarked that the proposal put forth by the United States, suggesting Israel-style security guarantees for Ukraine, is among several options currently under discussion. He further emphasized that deliberations on this matter are still ongoing and far from reaching a conclusion.
Biden, who is en route to Lithuania, told CNN on Sunday that Washington was ready to provide security to Ukraine in the mold of what it provides to Israel — “the weaponry they need, the capacity to defend themselves.”
Biden and Sunak discuss cluster munitions for Ukraine
According to a spokesperson for the prime minister, Biden and Sunak engaged in a morning meeting where they discussed the President’s choice to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine.
While the U.K. has signed a convention discouraging their usage and has decided not to supply them, Sunak conveyed to Biden that each country is responsible for making its own assessment and determination, as per an aide cited by Reuters.
“We stand by our obligations under the convention, which include discouraging their use. There is no change from us on that. Obviously it is for each country to make a decision,” the spokesperson said.
Biden, in an interview with CNN that aired Sunday, said that it was a “difficult decision” to send the munitions, but that it was necessary as Ukraine calls for more weaponry.
What to expect from the NATO summit in Vilnius
After concluding his meeting with Charles in Windsor, Biden is scheduled to embark on a journey to Vilnius today to participate in a summit alongside NATO members.
On Friday, the President’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, informed reporters that Biden is anticipated to engage in a meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda and hold discussions with all NATO leaders, along with NATO partners hailing from Europe and the Indo-Pacific.
“They will discuss a range of subjects, from strengthening NATO’s eastern flank to modernizing NATO’s deterrence and defense capabilities,” he said. “At the summit, the president and our allies will demonstrate our unity and resolve in support of Ukraine.”
After the summit concludes, Biden is scheduled to deliver a major address in Vilnius on Wednesday evening. That speech will focus on his “vision of a strong, confident America flanked by strong, confident allies and partners taking on the significant challenges of our time, from Russia’s aggression in Ukraine to the climate crisis,” Sullivan said.
Biden meets Charles at Windsor Castle
Biden boarded Marine One in London and made his way to Windsor Castle, where he had a meeting with Charles. The president was warmly welcomed by Charles, who greeted him with a handshake.
Both of them were observed inspecting a guard of honor formed by the Welsh Guards, with members of the military standing in position.
This encounter marks their first meeting following the coronation of the king, which President Biden did not attend, as First Lady Jill Biden represented him on that occasion.
The photograph captures the preparations of the Welsh Guards as they get ready for a guard of honor to be reviewed by Biden and Charles at Windsor Castle, located near London.
According to the White House, Biden is currently en route to Windsor Castle aboard Marine One, accompanied by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a delegation of senior White House officials.
Among the accompanying individuals are national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Jen O’Malley Dillon, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff, as well as Annie Tomasini, Assistant to the President, Senior Adviser to the President, and Director of Oval Office Operations.
Biden departs 10 Downing St.
As the president departed from 10 Downing Street, Sunak bid farewell to Biden after their discussions as two influential global leaders.
Next on his itinerary, Biden will proceed to Windsor Castle, where he is scheduled to have his first meeting with Charles since the monarch’s coronation, an event that Biden was unable to attend.
Biden and Sunak sit down for … tea?
Upon the president’s arrival, Biden and Sunak enjoyed a pleasant gathering in the garden of 10 Downing Street, indulging in a shared beverage, presumably tea.
Notably, the cups they used were official No. 10 cups, adorned with an illustration of the building’s exterior, accompanied by the inscription: “10 Downing St. London.”
London’s weather this morning boasts a temperature of approximately 71 degrees Fahrenheit, with cloudy conditions interspersed with occasional patches of sunshine—a delightful climate for a garden rendezvous.
War in Ukraine must end before Kyiv can join NATO, Biden says
Biden has said Russia’s war in Ukraine would need to end before NATO can consider adding Kyiv to the alliance.
Biden told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that discussion around Ukraine joining NATO was premature, but he said the U.S. and its allies in NATO would continue to provide Kyiv with weaponry and support to end the war.
“I don’t think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment, in the middle of a war,” Biden said. “For example, if you did that, then, you know — and I mean what I say — we’re determined to commit every inch of territory that is NATO territory. It’s a commitment that we’ve all made no matter what.”
“If the war is going on, then we’re all in war. We’re at war with Russia, if that were the case,” he said.
Talks come as Sunak speaks out against use of cluster munitions
Following the United States’ choice to supply cluster munitions to Ukraine, Biden’s meeting with Sunak takes place in the backdrop of the British prime minister’s expressed dissent towards the utilization of such weapons.
Sunak said over the weekend that the U.K. “discourages” the use of cluster bombs after the U.S. announced its decision to give them to Kyiv.
The employment of cluster munitions is contested by certain human rights organizations due to apprehensions regarding unexploded bomblets, or duds, which have the potential to detonate post-conflict and pose risks of harm or fatality to innocent civilians.
Sunak noted that the U.K. was one of at least 123 countries that signed a convention banning use of cluster munitions, saying: “We will continue to do our part to support Ukraine against Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion, but we’ve done that by providing heavy battle tanks and most recently long-range weapons, you know, and hopefully all countries can continue to support Ukraine.”
What to expect today
Biden’s agenda for today is packed with discussions and meetings aimed at reinforcing the “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom.
The president’s initial engagement is anticipated to be talks with Sunak at No. 10 Downing Street. These discussions mark the sixth meeting between the two leaders since Sunak assumed office in October of the previous year.
Following this, Biden is scheduled to pay a visit to Windsor Castle, an esteemed royal residence located outside London, where he will meet Charles. Notably, this encounter serves as their first meeting since the king’s coronation, which President Biden did not attend, as First Lady Jill Biden attended in his place.
Biden kicks off Europe trip with London visit
Biden commenced his European journey today with a visit to the capital of Britain, where he is scheduled to meet with Sunak and Charles.
The primary objective of these two world leaders is to fortify the “special relationship” between their respective countries, an alliance that has faced challenges due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Ukraine conflict will hold a prominent position on the agenda, with Biden and Sunak anticipated to engage in discussions regarding the counteroffensive, as well as Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO.