President Biden’s trip to Europe includes a rare day of three back-to-back global summits on Thursday as the world’s leaders gather in a variety of forums to discuss their response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
NATO: On Thursday morning, Mr. Biden was joining leaders of the 30 countries that make up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a group formed after World War II to promote a common defense. On the agenda: Whether, and how, to provide more robust weapons to Ukraine and how to shore up NATO’s own defenses in Poland and along the eastern front with Russia.
Mr. Biden and the others were also to discuss the grim scenarios of a possible further expansion of Russian attacks into NATO countries, and how the alliance would respond.
G7: After the NATO gathering, Mr. Biden will join the leaders of the Group of 7, the world’s largest wealthy democracies, to continue the discussion about Ukraine. The meeting, which includes the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, was called by Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, who is the current president of the G7.
The group is expected to confront the refugee crisis sparked by millions of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s forces, and to discuss what more the world can do to punish President Vladimir V. Putin for his aggression.
European Council: Mr. Biden will then cross Brussels to join the 27 leaders of European Union member states. The summit, known as a European Council, was the long-planned regular meeting of E.U. leaders that happens every quarter, but Mr. Biden was invited in view of the bloc’s close coordination with the United States on sanctions and all other measures responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The group is likely to focus on expanding sanctions as well as a push by Mr. Scholz to enhance enforcement measures to ensure that Russia is not able to evade the pain of the sanctions. The E.U. leaders will continue their meeting on Friday, after Mr. Biden has left for Poland.
Overlapping memberships: NATO and the European Union both have their headquarters in Brussels and their origins in the years after World War II, but the differences between them are important. NATO was built as a military bulwark against Soviet power, while the European Union is a political and economic bloc that grew from efforts to unite the formerly warring nations of Western Europe through trade.
Twenty-one countries now belong to both, including a swath that once fell under the Soviet sphere of influence. But the 27 E.U. members include several countries that have stayed outside NATO, often because of traditions of neutrality, like Austria, Ireland and Sweden. The 30 NATO members include the United States, by far its dominant military partner, and Canada, alongside several countries that have left or declined to join the European Union (Britain, Iceland, Norway) or have applied to join it (Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Turkey).
The Group of 7, meanwhile, was formed during the economic upheavals of the 1970s to facilitate discussions between the leaders of the Western world’s most powerful economies; it now includes European Union leaders, alongside those from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.