1 of 4 | U.S. President Joe Biden addresses a crowd at Vilnius University in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Wednesday at the end of the two-day NATO summit, vowing Western allies "will not waver" in their support of Ukraine, Photo by Eitvydas Kinaitis/Lithuanian President Press Office/UPI | License Photo
July 12 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden promised Ukraine in a major speech Wednesday that its Western allies "will not waver" in their support in Ukraine's fight against Russia following a two-day NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.
"We are steeled for the struggle ahead," Biden said, as he stood in front of American and Lithuanian flags before a large crowd in the courtyard of Vilnius University. "Our unity will not falter. I promise you."
"The defense of freedom is not the work of a day or a year. It's the calling of our lifetime -- of all time," Biden added as he touted the strength of the NATO alliance, the 31-country mutual defense pact created after World War II.
"NATO is stronger, more energized and, yes, more united than ever in its history," Biden said. "Indeed, more vital to our shared future. It didn't happen by accident."
During his speech Wednesday evening, Biden praised Lithuania for its efforts to remain free after leaving the Soviet Union in the 1990s and called climate change the greatest challenge to mankind.
"We need to update our toolset to better address the needs of today in this interconnected world. A world where climate disasters, pandemics, conflicts spill over borders and make it harder to address the challenges of poverty and instability that hold so many people back," Biden said.
Biden's remarks come after two days of meetings at the NATO summit where allies put Ukraine on a path to NATO membership and members committed to give more than 2% of their gross domestic product to defense.
"Now, over the last few days, as president of the United States, I had the honor of participating in a historic NATO summit hosted by Lithuania, where we welcomed NATO's newest ally, Finland, and reached agreement to bring Sweden into the alliance as soon as possible," Biden said as the crowed cheered.
During the summit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met for an hour with Biden, which Zelensky called a "good, powerful" discussion, in addition to leaders from Canada, Britain, Japan, Germany and the Netherlands.
As this week's summit comes nearly 18 months after Russia invaded Ukraine, Biden emphasized the world remains at a crossroads. He called a secure Europe vital to prosperity in the United States and the rest of the world.
"We face a choice, a choice between a world defined by coercion and exploitation, where might makes right, or a world where we recognize that our own success is bound to the success of others -- when others do better, we do better, as well."