“I’m going to the G7, then to the NATO ministerial conference and then to a meeting with Mr Putin to let him know what I want to say to him,” said Biden at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, England – home of an American gas station wing and the location of Biden’s first presidential speech on foreign soil.
Biden spoke out forcefully about restoring American alliances in Europe, describing them as a cornerstone of global security. And he said he would not hold back in his meeting with Putin.
“We are not looking for a conflict with Russia. We want a stable, predictable relationship,” he said. “I made it clear that the United States will respond robustly and sensibly if the Russian government engages in harmful activities. We have already shown that. I will communicate that violating the sovereignty of democracies has ramifications “in the United States and Europe and elsewhere.”
Before meeting Putin in Geneva next week, Biden is holding consultations with European leaders at the G7 in Cornwall and the NATO summit in Brussels.
“Our unrivaled network of alliances and partnerships that are and have been the key to American advantage in the world,” said Biden. “They made the world a safer place for all of us and are the way we meet today’s challenges, which are changing rapidly. However, we will master them from a position of strength.”
Setting a lofty goal for his first overseas trip, he hinted that nothing less than democracy itself was at stake as he worked to convince leaders that U.S. commitment to transatlantic relations continues four years ago President Donald Trump is back for good.
“I believe we are at a turning point in world history, the moment when it is up to us to prove that democracies not only endure, but will excel if we take advantage of the enormous opportunities of the new age,” said Biden said. “We must discredit those who believe that the age of democracy is over, as some of our fellow citizens believe.”
The president also seemed to get emotional as he remembered his late son’s ministry. As he began his speech to thank the assembled US soldiers, he remembered his son Beau, who was a major in the Delaware National Guard.
“I just wish my major were here to thank you,” he said.
Biden’s next stop is Cornwall, where he will stay until Sunday to attend a bilateral meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the G7 summit.