Secretary General discusses security challenges with top NATO military commanders
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg discussed security challenges with NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Philip Breedlove, and participated in a conference of senior military commanders during a visit to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe on Wednesday (11 March 2015). The Secretary General thanked the commanders for the remarkable work of Allied forces in the face of a highly complex and uncertain security environment. “Every day, they keep our nations safe,” he said.
The Secretary General warned that Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine have undermined the post-Cold War security order in Europe. He underlined that the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine remained the best foundation for a peaceful solution to the conflict. Mr. Stoltenberg noted that the ceasefire appeared to be holding, but remained fragile. “We have seen the withdrawal of some heavy weapons, but it’s unclear to what destination,” he said. The Secretary General called on all parties to ensure that OSCE monitors have “the information, the freedom of movement and the security guarantees they require” in order to verify full compliance with the Minsk agreement.
In response to challenges both to the east and the south, NATO is implementing the strongest reinforcement of its collective defence since the end of the Cold War, Mr. Stoltenberg said. “We are doubling the size of the NATO Response Force from 13,000 to 30,000 troops” and “setting up a new 5,000-strong quick reaction Spearhead Force, with some units ready to move within as little as 48 hours.” He added that NATO is establishing six command and control centres in the Baltic States and three other eastern Allies, in order to coordinate training and exercises, and facilitate rapid reinforcements.
The Secretary General said the Alliance would “keep up the momentum”, noting a current exercise of NATO ships in the Black Sea, a major U.S. deployment to the Baltic region for training, and an upcoming exercise in the autumn – expected to be the Alliance’s largest in many years – with over 25,000 troops participating. “These measures are defensive, proportionate, and in line with our international commitments,” Mr. Stoltenberg said, adding: “these Headquarters and our Supreme Commander Europe, General Breedlove, play a key role in these efforts.”