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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, on Wednesday. Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin signaled a new era of cooperation during a NATO meeting Wednesday while warning of the threat from "strategic competitors," per a news conference with Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.

Why it matters: Austin's first meeting with NATO defense ministers marks a clear shift from the previous administration. Relations with European allies became so strained under former President Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron referred to NATO as "brain dead."

  • It's clear from the message that NATO leaders should become more concerned about the threat posed by not only China, but also Russia, which enjoyed friendlier relations under Trump, per CNN.

What they're saying: Austin reaffirmed President Biden's message that the U.S. "intends to revitalize our relationship with the alliance," Kirby said.

  • "Secretary Austin emphasized that NATO's most important task is protecting our populations and territories by presenting credible deterrence and a strong military."

The big picture: In the first of the two-day virtual meeting, the defense chiefs examined proposals including strengthening allied commitment to deterrence and defense by providing incentives to contribute more capabilities and ensure fairer burden sharing, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels, per a statement.

Go deeper

Updated Mar 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden Cabinet tracker: Which nominees have been confirmed

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

All of President Biden's Cabinet nominees have now been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The big picture: Biden now has known, trusted people around him, many from the Obama administration, to help implement his policies and turn away from the tumultuous Trump years.

Updated 7 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden says Russia likely to invade Ukraine

President Biden addressed the brewing conflict between Russia and Ukraine during a press briefing Wednesday, saying of Russian President Vladimir Putin, "my guess is he will move in."

Why it matters: U.S. officials have issued a series of warnings about Russia's threatening military buildup on the border with Ukraine, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying in Kyiv earlier Wednesday that Russia could invade "on very short notice."

Updated 16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Trump's attempt to shield documents from Jan. 6 committee

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday night a bid by former President Trump to block the release of documents and records from his administration to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the release of the documents last month after a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously denied his attempt to prevent the committee from obtaining the materials.