Biden Meets With NATO's Bucharest Nine

US President Joe Biden met with members of NATO’s eastern flank to affirm his support for the alliance’s security on Wednesday, February 22, during his visit to Poland’s capital, Warsaw.

Biden met with leaders of NATO’s Bucharest Nine and the NATO Secretary General, underscoring the importance of the alliance.

“Today, as we approach the one year anniversary of Russia’s further invasion, it’s even more important that we continue to stand together,” the president said.

Biden outlined the importance of the Bucharest Nine, addressing the leaders in the room: “You know better than anyone what’s at stake in this conflict, not just for Ukraine but for the freedom of democracies throughout Europe and around the world.”

The president reiterated the importance of the United States’ commitment to NATO, saying that Article 5, which states that an attack against one ally is considered an attack against all allies, is a “sacred commitment the United States has made.”

“What literally is at stake is not just Ukraine, it’s freedom,” Biden finished.

On Monday, Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv to meet with Ukraine’s leader, Volodymyr Zelensky. Credit: The White House via Storyful

Video transcript

- Excellencies, dear friends. We are all delighted to have with us today a special guest who has accepted the invitation to the summit, the president of the United States of America, Mr. Joseph Biden. Welcome, sir. We ask you to take the floor, please.

JOE BIDEN: Well, thank you all very much. And I'm delighted to be here. Some of you may remember, years ago, when we were expanding NATO, I was the one in the United States Senate who was pushing the hardest to expand NATO membership for many of you sitting around this table.

And the irony is that one of the last conversations I had with our friend in Russia was-- I said, you keep asking for the Finlandization of NATO. You're going to get the NATO-ization of Finland. Well, it happened.

Not only are we as strong as we were, we're stronger. And I say to my fellow presidents that I'm honored to be with you here, and so many strong NATO allies and the secretary general, who I think, has done an incredible job, an incredible job for a long time. I rely on his judgment a great deal.

The B9 was founded in 2015 after Russia attempted annexation of Crimea. And today, as we approach the one-year anniversary of Russia's further invasion, it's even more important that we continue to stand together. And I think this is proof of just how strongly we feel.

That's why I wanted to meet all of you in person here today. As NATO's eastern flank, you're on the front lines of our collective defense. And you know better than anyone what's at stake in this conflict, not just for Ukraine but for the freedom of democracies throughout Europe and around the world.

That's what President Zelenskyy and I spoke about when I was in Kyiv two days ago. And the leaders around this table have repeatedly stepped up to reaffirm our shared commitment to all these values. We've provided critical security assistance to Ukraine and critical support to literally millions of refugees. We've helped ensure Ukrainians can access basic services. And together, we'll continue our enduring support for Ukraine as they defend their freedom.

Over the past year, with your countries, with the countries around this table providing collective leadership, we've also strengthened NATO. The commitment of the United States and NATO-- and I've said it too many times. I'll say it again. Is absolutely clear--

Article V is a sacred commitment the United States has made. We will defend literally every inch of NATO, every inch of NATO. And this is an important moment. I look forward to the discussion and the next steps we can take together and to keep our alliance strong and to further deter aggression because what literally is at stake is not just Ukraine, it's freedom.

The idea that over 100,000 forces would invade another country after war-- since World War II, nothing like that has happened. Things have changed radically. And we have to make sure we change them back. So thank you all very much for allowing me to be with you. I look forward to our private discussions.