The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

U.S. to increase military presence in Europe

On June 28, Turkey agreed to support Finland and Sweden's NATO bids after a month of opposition. (Video: Reuters)

This live coverage has ended. For Thursday’s live updates, click here.

MADRID — President Biden, speaking Wednesday on the second day of a NATO summit, unveiled plans for an increased U.S. military presence in Europe, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The new deployments are to include a permanent headquarters for the U.S. 5th Army Corps in Poland — a move that Russian President Vladimir Putin has long resisted — as well as the movement of two more F-35 fighter jet squadrons to the United Kingdom.

View live politics updates

Leaders of NATO member states decided Wednesday to invite Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, announcing the move a day after Turkey agreed to drop its opposition to their bids. The addition of the two Nordic countries will bring the alliance to 32 members and underscores how Russia’s war in Ukraine is transforming regional security.

Putin said Wednesday that Russia will respond in kind to Finland and Sweden joining NATO if the expansion includes troop and military infrastructure deployments, repeating a months-old threat.

Zelensky calls on world leaders to punish Russia after deadly mall strike

Here’s what to know:

  • Russia and Ukraine each exchanged 144 soldiers on Wednesday in a swap that Ukrainian authorities called the largest prisoner exchange since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion in February.
  • Putin still intends to capture most of Ukraine, with the war likely setting into a grinding conflict in the near-term, the top U.S. intelligence official said.
  • The Treasury Department announced the delivery of $1.3 billion in economic aid to Ukraine to help the beleaguered nation respond to the enormous financial impact of Russia’s invasion.
  • Bulgaria says it is expelling 70 Russian diplomats on grounds that they pose a threat to national security. The diplomats must depart by Sunday.
  • The U.S. has accused several companies and research institutes in China of supporting Russia’s military after the Ukraine invasion began, in one of the first concrete signs of Chinese entities allegedly helping Russia against Washington’s wishes.
3:25 p.m.
Headshot of Erin Cunningham
Foreign Evening Editor
Biden, Erdogan meet: President Biden spoke Wednesday with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Madrid, according to a White House readout. The talks followed Turkey’s agreement with Finland and Sweden allowing them to join NATO, which Biden praised.The deal was announced Tuesday in Madrid and includes pledges by Finland and Sweden to withhold support for groups Turkey considers terrorist organizations. Pro-government media in Turkey has hailed the agreement as a victory for Ankara. But some analysts say Erdogan won few concrete concessions from the West. Instead, he scored a political victory at home, strong-arming two European nations to repeat Turkish talking points on Kurdish militants and domestic opponents.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of troops in an address to the nation on Sept. 21, framing the move as an attempt to defend Russian sovereignty against a West that seeks to use Ukraine as a tool to “divide and destroy Russia.” Follow our live updates here.

The fight: A successful Ukrainian counteroffensive has forced a major Russian retreat in the northeastern Kharkiv region in recent days, as troops fled cities and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned large amounts of military equipment.

Annexation referendums: Staged referendums, which would be illegal under international law, are set to take place from Sept. 23 to 27 in the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine, according to Russian news agencies. Another staged referendum will be held by the Moscow-appointed administration in Kherson starting Friday.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can help support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

Read our full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.