by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meetings of NATO Defence Ministers
We have just finished a meeting of NATO Defence Ministers.
And in an unpredictable world, we are strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defence. Fairer burden-sharing underpins this. There is a renewed sense of urgency for all Allies to invest more in defence. To move forward on all aspects of burden-sharing: cash, capabilities and contributions to NATO missions and operations.
This was the focus of our discussions last night. It is clear we are making progress. This will be the fourth consecutive year of rising defence spending. But we still have a long way to go. Allies have committed to have credible national plans. I would expect these to show real increases in defence spending year on year. And a realistic path to 2% of GDP on defence. Allies will report on the national plans before the end of this year, and we intend to discuss them at our meeting of defence ministers in February. Allies should also invest in new capabilities.
And make contributions to our missions and operations. This is about fairness. But more importantly, it’s about our security in a more unpredictable world.
Our deterrence and defence includes conventional capabilities, cyber defence, missile defence, and the nuclear dimension.
So today we held a meeting of the Nuclear Planning Group. This is part of our work to ensure we have the right tools and procedures in place. So NATO nuclear forces remain safe, secure and effective.
We also addressed concerns about the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
A landmark agreement that abolishes a whole category of weapons. We believe this treaty is in danger because of Russia’s actions. After years of denials, Russia recently acknowledged the existence of a new missile system, called 9M729. This system is destabilising. It is a serious risk to our security. Allies agree that Russia has not been transparent. And refuses to provide any credible answers. The most plausible assessment is that Russia is in violation of the INF Treaty.
We call on Russia to address our serious concerns.
What is more concerning is that this is part of a pattern of behaviour of many years. Today’s announcements by the Dutch and British governments have exposed Russia’s indiscriminate campaign of cyber attacks around the world. The Netherlands briefed the NATO Defence Ministers on the targeting of the offices of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague by a hostile cyber operation. This operation was carried out by the GRU, the Russian military intelligence services. But it was disrupted by the Dutch intelligence services in partnership with the UK. Moreover, the UK has identified the GRU as being behind a number of other cyber-attacks around the world. These have affected citizens in many countries, including Russia. And caused enormous economic costs.
NATO Allies expressed their solidarity with the decision by the Dutch and the British governments to call out Russia on its blatant attempt to undermine international law and international institutions.
Russia must stop this reckless pattern of behaviour. Including the use of force against its neighbours, attempted interference in election processes, and widespread disinformation and campaigns. In response, NATO will continue to strengthen its defence and deterrence in the cyber domain. We are making significant progress. Setting up a new Cyber Operations Centre. Bolstering our cyber resilience. And integrating national cyber capabilities into NATO missions and operations. Some Allies have successfully used their cyber capabilities against ISIS in Iraq and Syria: to suppress terrorist propaganda, hinder their ability to coordinate attacks, and to protect forces on the battlefield.
Today, several more Allies have offered their cyber capabilities to NATO. I thank them. This is a big step forward. These cyber capabilities will make us as strong in cyberspace as we are on land, at sea and in the air. Of course, we remain a defensive alliance. Acting proportionately. And in line with international law. We are also making progress in setting up new Counter Hybrid Support Teams. These teams will provide tailored assistance to our nations. To prepare for, and to respond to hybrid attacks. This too is about Alliance solidarity.
At the same time, NATO is responding to the instability on our southern borders.
Our new training mission in Iraq will help local forces to secure their country. And we continue to support other partners – Jordan and Tunisia – to improve their defence and security capabilities. Our Hub for the South in Naples is also working to monitor and understand regional threats, like terrorism and failing states.
Today, we were joined by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and our partners Finland and Sweden. We are stepping up our cooperation with the EU on cyber defence, military mobility, and in countering hybrid threats. We also heard about the EU’s efforts on defence, and how they can complement NATO’s work.
This has the potential to contribute to the enhanced security of Europe and North America.
And with that, I’m ready to take your questions.