by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Defence Ministers Session
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to this meeting of the Defence Ministers in the North Atlantic Council.
The security environment continues to be challenging, both to the east and to the south.
In Ukraine, the violence has sharply escalated. Russian-backed separatists are attempting to expand their territory in disregard of the Minsk agreements. And Russia continues to support them with training, forces and hundreds of pieces of advanced weapons - in breach of its international commitments.
In North Africa and the Middle East, the international coalition has made significant progress. But violent extremism is spreading, with a terrible human toll. And this turmoil fuels terrorism in our own countries.
As our security environment continues to change, NATO has to stay strong.
Today, we will take the next steps in implementing the Readiness Action Plan to ensure our forces stay ready, robust and responsive. To deal with challenges on NATO’s borders from the east and from the south.
This is the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War.
We have already increased our presence on land, at sea and in the air in the eastern part of the Alliance.
And assurance will continue.
Today, we will decide on enhancing the existing NATO Response Force. We will decide on the size and the composition of our new spearhead force, which must be able to respond to any emerging crisis in a matter of days.
And we will also decide on a NATO command and control presence on the territory of our eastern Allies. This will facilitate rapid deployment, planning, and the coordination of multinational exercises.
This is transatlantic teamwork. Defending every Ally against any threat.
Let me now conclude the public part of the meeting. And I would like to thank the members of the media who have been present.