by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council
We have just taken further measures to respond to the crisis in Ukraine.
We agree that a political solution is the only way forward.
NATO fully supports the Geneva talks and all the efforts of the international community to find a political solution, which fulfils the democratic aspirations of the entire Ukrainian people and respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
We call on Russia to be part of the solution. To stop destabilising Ukraine, pull back its troops from the borders and make clear it doesn't support the violent actions of well armed militias of pro-Russian separatists.
NATO's core task is to protect and defend our Allies. We have already taken a series of steps, including enhancing our Air Policing mission in the Baltic States, and AWACS surveillance flights over Poland and Romania.
Today, we agreed on a package of further military measures to reinforce our collective defence and demonstrate the strength of Allied solidarity.
We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water, and more readiness on the land.
For example, air policing aircraft will fly more sorties over the Baltic region. Allied ships will deploy to the Baltic Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere, as required. Military staff from Allied nations will deploy to enhance our preparedness, training and exercises. Our defence plans will be reviewed and reinforced.
We will start to implement these measures straight away. More will follow, if needed, in the weeks and months to come.
Our decisions today are about defence, deterrence and de-escalation. They are entirely in line with our international commitments.
They send a clear message: NATO will protect every Ally and defend against any threat against our fundamental security.
That is our firm commitment.
Moderator: NPR, CBS.
Q: Terri Schultz, with NPR and CBS. Mr. Secretary General, when you say that you’ll start to implement these measures straight away, what will we literally see in the coming days, especially in terms of military personnel being deployed? Are you literally sending contingents of trainers or other personnel to the Baltic States who have asked for it, to Poland? What can you tell us in material terms is going to happen in the very nearest days?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: You will see deployments at sea, in the air, on land to take place immediately. That means within days, pending of course practical… a number of practical considerations. But we have decided to implement immediately.
Moderator: Associated Press.
Question: Associated Press. Secretary General, how many soldiers, planes and ships will be involved by these measures that you took today?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: I won’t go into operational details, but I can tell you that we will deploy enough to enhance our preparedness and enough to prepare for more if needed.
Moderator: Latvian Media.
Question: Ina Strazdina, Radio Latvia. Secretary General, did you discuss also idea of creating permanent NATO bases in Baltic States, such as new air base, for example, or ports for NATO ships? Thank you.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: We haven’t today taken decisions on such facilities. What we have done today is to agree on a package of measures that can be implemented immediately. But there will be follow-on work.
When foreign ministers met at the end… at the beginning of this month, they tasked our military authorities to look into how we could possibly further strengthen collective defence and that also includes more medium-term and long-term measures, and at this headquarters as well as our military authorities will continue exploring ways to possibly further enhance our collective defence.
Question: Hello. (Inaudible), Romanian News Agency.
Secretary General, you haven’t mentioned Romania between those countries that you will take measures to reinforce your presence. What have you decided about Romania? Do you consider having naval exercises for example at the Black Sea? Thank you.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: This is not about specific countries. This is about the Alliance as such. I mentioned that we are prepared to update and review our defence plans and develop new defence plans as required.
But as you also know, we don’t as a matter of principle, we don’t comment on concrete defence plans.
Moderator: Dutch Media.
Question: The Netherlands offered fighter jets and possibly a marine ship. Is that enough? Does NATO have enough material to deploy?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Yes, indeed, we do have the necessary capacity to implement these measures that have been recommended by our military authorities. We already know that some Allies will come forward with concrete contributions and I’m sure that more will follow.
Question: Jim Neuger, from Bloomberg. You opened by mentioning the Geneva talks tomorrow in the pursuit of a diplomatic settlement. Was this the reason why NATO didn’t go further in its measures today? Was there any concern about perhaps appearing to provoke Russia on the eve of Geneva?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: We have… we have now taken steps, military steps that we think at this stage are necessary to ensure effective collective defence and deterrence.. But having said that, we do hope that the Geneva talks will pave the way for a peaceful and political solution to the crisis.
Moderator: Thank you very much indeed.