Biden: Leaders in ‘dark hour’ after Ukraine invasion | Government and politics


By JOSH BOAK and AAMER MADHANI – Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — President Joe Biden told his fellow Indo-Pacific leaders gathered for a four-nation summit on Tuesday that they were going through “a dark hour in our shared history” due to the brutal war of the Russia against Ukraine and he urged the group to make more effort to stop Vladimir Putin’s aggression.

“It’s more than just a European problem. It’s a global problem,” Biden said at the start of the “Quad” summit with Japan, Australia and India.

Although the president did not call any country directly, his message appeared to be directed, at least in part, to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with whom differences persist over how to respond to the Russian invasion.

Unlike other Quad countries and almost all other US allies, India has not imposed sanctions or even condemned Russia, its largest supplier of military equipment.

With Modi sitting nearby, Biden argued that the world had a shared responsibility to do something to help Ukraine’s resistance against Russia’s aggression.

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“We are navigating a dark hour in our shared history,” he said. “Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine has unleashed a humanitarian catastrophe and innocent civilians have been killed in the streets and millions of refugees are internally displaced as well as in exile.”

“The world has to deal with it and we are doing it,” he added.

Later, in comments to reporters after a one-on-one meeting with Modi, Biden said they discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “and the effect it has on the whole world order”. Biden added that the United States and India will continue to consult “on how to mitigate these negative effects.”

In his comments, Modi made no mention of the war in Ukraine, instead ticking off several trade and investment agendas he discussed with the president.

The White House has praised several Pacific nations, including Japan, Singapore and South Korea, for stepping up to hit Russia with tough sanctions and export bans while offering humanitarian aid and military in kyiv.

For several of Asia’s biggest powers, the invasion was seen as a crucial moment for the world to demonstrate through a strong response to Russia that China should not try to seize disputed territory through military action. .

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, taking note of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, told other leaders, “We cannot let the same thing happen in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The White House was disappointed with the relative silence of India, the world’s largest democracy.

Biden has asked Modi not to speed up the purchase of Russian oil as the United States and other allies seek to cut Moscow’s energy revenues. India’s prime minister has made no public commitment to withdraw from Russian oil, and Biden has publicly called India “somewhat fragile” in its response to the invasion.

Faced with Western pressure, India has condemned the civilian deaths in Ukraine and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. Yet he has also deepened the fallout from a war that has caused global food shortages by banning wheat exports at a time when famine is a growing risk in some parts of the world. India’s prime minister did not address Russia’s war on Ukraine in his public remarks at the summit.

Biden has been making his case to Modi for weeks.

The pair discussed the Russian invasion during a virtual meeting of Quad leaders in March, and last month had a short video chat when Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met their Indian counterparts in Washington.

“So this won’t be a new conversation,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said ahead of the summit. “It will be a continuation of the conversation they already had about how we view the situation in Ukraine and the impacts of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine on a broader set of concerns around the world. “

While Biden and Modi may avoid a public confrontation over how to respond to Russia’s aggression, the issue remains major as the United States and its allies seek to tighten pressure on Putin, said vice-president Michael Green. -senior president for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“It seems pretty clear that the Biden administration isn’t looking for trouble with India and that most of these difficult conversations will take place in private,” said Green, who was a senior National Security Council official under the George W. Bush administration.

The summit took place on the final day of Biden’s five-day visit to Japan and South Korea, Biden’s first trip to Asia as president.

It also marked new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s first moment on the world stage. The new prime minister flew to Tokyo on Monday just after being sworn in. The centre-left Labor Party defeated Prime Minister Scott Morrison over the weekend, ending the Tory leader’s nine-year rule

Biden, Modi and Kishida welcomed Albanese to the club and expressed admiration at his determination to join the informal security coalition so soon after taking office.

“I don’t know how you do it,” Biden, who looked a little worn from his own trip, told Albanese. The US president joked that it would be nice if the new prime minister fell asleep during the meeting.

Biden was scheduled to meet Albanes separately later on Tuesday. The four-party partnership has become increasingly relevant as Biden moves to adjust US foreign policy to place greater emphasis on the region and to counter China’s rise as an economic and security powerhouse. He held bilateral talks with summit host Kishida on Monday.

Albanese told fellow Quad leaders that he was dedicated to the group’s mission of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“We’ve had a change of government in Australia, but Australia’s commitment to the Quad hasn’t changed and won’t change,” Albanese said.

Biden’s blunt statement on Monday that the US would intervene militarily if China were to invade Taiwan loomed over Quad leaders’ talks, saying the burden of protecting Taiwan is ‘even greater’ after China’s invasion Ukraine by Russia. The White House insists that Biden’s unusually strong comments on Taiwan did not constitute a shift in US policy toward the self-governing island that China claims as its own.

Asked by reporters at Tuesday’s summit if his comments about Taiwan a day earlier were meant to mark a shift in policy, Biden simply replied, “No.”

Some modest initiatives were announced by Quad leaders, including a new effort to provide pediatric COVID-19 vaccines to countries that need them most and a program to help nations improve the safety and environmental awareness of their territorial waters.

Last year, the Quad pledged to donate 1.2 billion doses of the vaccine worldwide. So far, the group has provided about 257 million doses, according to the Biden administration.

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller in Washington, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed reporting

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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