Doorstep statement

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Council of the EU

  • 16 Nov. 2021 -
  • |
  • Mis à jour le: 17 Nov. 2021 12:16

(As delivered)

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General:

Good afternoon!

I look forward to meet the EU Defence Ministers and to discuss different timely issues like the situation on the border between Poland and Belarus, Ukraine, but also NATO-EU cooperation.

On the issue of the situation on the border between Belarus and Poland, but also on the border between Belarus and two other NATO Allies, Latvia and Lithuania.
Of course, we are deeply concerned about the way the Lukashenko regime is using vulnerable migrants as a hybrid tactic against other countries, and this is actually putting the life of the migrants at risk. And it is a way of using people, instrumentalizing people, in hybrid tactics against other countries. We follow this very closely, and we stand in solidarity with Poland and other Allies affected. And we are ready also to continue to support and consult closely with the Allies involved.

On Ukraine.
We are watching closely the military build-up by Russia. We see unusual large forces and concentration of forces close to Ukraine's border. We have seen this before.
And we think it is extremely important now to send a clear message to Russia about reducing tensions, be transparent and avoid any type of escalation of the situation in and around Ukraine.
NATO Allies will continue to monitor closely. We will continue to provide political and practical support to Ukraine. And of course, we also send a very clear message of resolve in protecting all Allies in the region.

Then on NATO-EU cooperation.
We are welcoming that over the last years we have been able to strengthen, and to lift NATO-EU cooperation to unprecedented levels.
I look forward to discuss how we can further strengthen NATO-EU cooperation with the ministers in a meeting today.
I think we should also look into new areas such as disruptive technologies, resilience, but also the security consequences of climate change.

So there are many issues to discuss.
I look forward to meet the new defence ministers later on.

Journalist 1:

Thank you. With regards to Russia.…[ inaudible] try to exploit knowing the weakness in the West.  What exactly can you deliver besides a strong message? What can you do exactly as NATO with regards to Ukraine?

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General:

NATO Allies send a very clear message of support to Ukraine and not only words but also in deeds.  We provide political support and we provide practical support. 

NATO Allies as, for instance, United States, Canada, United Kingdom, also Turkey and other Allies, also European Allies provide support to Ukraine. And we do that because we support Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty. And we will, we are also in very close contact consultations with the Ukrainian leadership. I spoke recently with President Zelenskiy, I met on Monday with Foreign Minister Kuleba, and we continue to work closely with Ukraine and also provide political and practical support.

And we are monitoring the situation in the Region. And then of course, as a direct consequence of the use of military force against Ukraine by Russia, - first by illegally annexing Crimea and then later on by supporting the militants in Donbas in Eastern Ukraine-, NATO Allies have implemented the biggest reinforcements of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War with increased military presence in the Eastern part of the Alliance,  with battle groups in the Baltic countries, with increased presence in the Black Sea region, and also by increasing the readiness of our forces.

So this sends a very clear message to Russia about the commitment, about the resolve on NATO Allies to protect all NATO Allies, also of course in Eastern part of the Alliance.

Journalist 2:

Mr. Secretary. You have invited Georgia and Ukraine to the Riga Summit. Can we wait something more concrete, maybe it's time for more active measures then just statements and  [inaudible]

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General:

Well as we work very closely with Georgia and Ukraine. They are close partners.

We provide support, but we also appreciate the fact that we're working closely with them, - and not least in the Black Sea region-, is good for Georgia and Ukraine, but it's also good for NATO Allies, because the Black Sea region is of strategic importance for NATO.

And again, NATO Allies provide support, capacity building, training both to Ukraine and Georgia. And I expect Allies, when they meet at the Summit next year, but also at the Foreign Minister meeting in Riga next month, that they will reiterate their strong support to both our close partners.

Journalist 3:

One question on the Strategic Compass, I think you have received the document from Borrell? What is your regards on these strategic review of the European Union on defence? What is your vision or your opinion on the new initiative about the […] up the quick force, quick reaction force, quick [….] force. Is it a competitor or it is a contributor to European, Euro-Atlantic security?

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General:

NATO welcomes EU efforts on defence. And any meaningful effort by European Allies on defence requires more spending. NATO is the organization that has really put a need to increase defence spending on top of our agenda. We made the decision at the NATO Summit in 2014 when we called on all Allies to invest more. And the good news is that European Allies are now investing more.

So EU efforts on defence that provide more resources and also new capabilities, that is something that NATO strongly welcome, because we have been calling for that for a long period of time.

We also welcome then the delivery, when European Allies provide more capabilities.
But of course these capabilities has to be also available for NATO missions and operations. And we also have a long list what we call ‘capability targets’ in NATO defining what kind of capabilities different NATO Allies - also, of course, European allies - should provide, and we expect the European Allies to meet those capability targets.

Then NATO has over the last years focused very much on increased readiness of forces. We have tripled the size of the NATO Response Force available for the whole of NATO of course, 45,000. And these are troops and forces that can move quickly, be deployed quickly,  Air Forces, Land Forces and Enable Forces, that exercise together, they operate together, and they have a common command structure. So of course these high readiness forces of NATO are extremely important for all Allies, and also European Allies.

We welcome the increased efforts by EU Allies on defence but NATO will of course remain the cornerstone for European security. 80% of NATO's defence spending comes from non-EU Allies. The non-EU Allies also play a key role for instance, when it comes to our increased presence in Eastern part of the Alliance. Three of the four battlegroups at Eastern part of our Alliance are led by non EU allies: the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. So I think it's obvious that we need not Europe alone or North America, United States alone. We need Europe and North America together, to stand together in a much more challenging and difficult security environment. We need strategic solidarity, European and North America are working together and that's the message. And in that context, we also of course welcome more European efforts on defence spending on providing new capabilities.

Journalist 4:

Secretary General, do you think that the Russian military build-up at the Ukrainian border has consequences on the outstanding decisions on the Nord Stream 2  project.

How do you see the latest Russian anti-satellite missile test?

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General:

So we have been informed by the United States on the Russian anti-satellite test that actually destroyed a satellite as part of a test and this has created a lot of debris, which is now a risk to the International Space Station, also to the Chinese space station. So this was a reckless act by Russia to actually shoot down and destroy a satellite as part of a test of anti-satellite weapon system.

And NATO has developed a space policy, not least to address the challenges we see in space.

NATO [does] not weaponized space, but the satellites that capabilities NATO Allies have in space are extremely important for what is going on Earth. Communications, navigation, early warning, all of that is dependent on space capabilities. So of course when Russia now tests new space weapons, when they test it also by actually destroying a space capability creating a lot of dangerous debris that is concerning both. Because the debris actually poses a risk to civilian activity in space, but is also of concern because it demonstrates that Russia is now developing new weapons systems that can shoot down satellites, can destroy important space capabilities for basic infrastructure on Earth like communications, like navigation, or like early warning of missile launches.

Journalist 5:

Secretary General. What should we expect in Riga for NATO-Georgia, NATO-Ukraine commission meeting on what formats will be in Latvia? Also what is the main message from you and from NATO by this invitation?

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General:

We will meet with Ukraine and Georgia together and I very much look forward to meet with both the foreign minister of Ukraine and the foreign minister of Georgia. I met with Foreign Minister Kuleba yesterday of Ukraine.

And of course this will be a possibility for Allies to reiterate their strong support to both Ukraine and to Georgia. And the whole Black Sea region - both of these countries are Black Sea countries - is of great importance for NATO, and therefore the close partnership with these countries is something we highly value.

Thank you.