President Biden and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Tuesday announced plans to bolster the U.S. military’s presence in Europe as Russia’s war in Ukraine grinds on.
Once finalized, the agreement will increase the number of U.S. Navy destroyers in Rota Spain to six from the current deployment of four. The U.S has had naval vessels in Rota since the two countries signed a Defense Cooperation agreement in 1988.
Rota is located on Spain’s Atlantic coast about 100 nautical miles from the Strait of Gibraltar that accesses the Mediterranean Sea.
Spain and the U.S. also agreed to hold regular meetings to strengthen their defense cooperation.
“Today, we are standing together to defend our shared security — and I emphasize shared security — strengthen our transatlantic alliance and meet the challenges we face today in the future,” Mr. Biden said at a bilateral meeting with Mr. Sanchez in Madrid, Spain.
“We are standing as one to support Ukraine and to enhance our own deterrence and defense capabilities,” he said.
Mr. Sanchez said the defense agreement underscores the “strong historic bonds” between the U.S. and Spain.
“We are reinforcing our support for a rules-based international order and it’s very important to say that today in Madrid as a consequence of holding the NATO summit here because of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a clear violation of international law,” he said.
Since the war in Ukraine began in late February, the U.S. has steadily increased its presence in Europe, adding about 20,000 troops to the 80,000 stationed there before the war.
The bilateral meeting kicked off this week’s NATO summit in Madrid where Mr. Biden is seeking to reaffirm allies’ commitment to defending war-ravaged Ukraine.
NATO allies have grown weary as the war contributes to soaring prices for oil, gas and food. They have also grown tired of Russian sanctions that have done little to stop Moscow’s war machine.