Press conference

by the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda

  • 07 Feb. 2022 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 07 Feb. 2022 18:34

(As delivered)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets with the Andrzej Duda, President of Poland at NATO Headquarters

President Duda,
Dear Andrzej,

Welcome back to NATO Headquarters.
It is always a pleasure to host you here and thank you so much for your strong commitment to our alliance
And for everything that we do together to ensure our security.

Poland is a highly valued NATO Ally that makes major contributions to our shared security.

You host one of NATO’s multinational battlegroups in the region.
You contribute to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission.
And you host key facilities, such as our Multinational Corps Northeast
and a site for our Ballistic Missile Defence.

We met today at a critical time.

We discussed Russia’s massive military build-up in and round Ukraine.
Russia now has deployed well over 100,000 troops.
With enabling capabilities.
Including medical units, command and control, and logistics.

We also expect around 30,000 Russian troops to be deployed in Belarus.
The largest military build-up there since the Cold War. 

These deployments are not justified, not transparent, and very close to NATO borders.

Moreover, Russia has rescheduled its annual exercise of nuclear forces for this month.  
And we have seen Russia use military exercises before as a cover for aggressive actions.

So NATO must remain vigilant and ready.   
We have already increased our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance,
and the readiness of the NATO Response Force.
We are also considering the deployment of additional battlegroups to the south-eastern part of the NATO Alliance.

I welcome that the United States is sending more troops to Poland, to Germany and also to Romania. 
This is a powerful demonstration of American commitment to our Alliance.

Other Allies are also contributing more forces to NATO on land, in the air, and at sea.

Our deployments are defensive and proportionate.
They send a clear message: NATO will do whatever is necessary to protect and defend all Allies.

At the same time, dialogue with Russia is even more important to find a political solution.

Today, I reiterate my invitation to Russia to meet with NATO Allies in the NATO-Russia Council.

We are ready to listen to their concerns,
to discuss NATO-Russia relations, risk reduction and transparency,  arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation,
and other issues that affect our security.

But NATO will not compromise on core principles.
Our ability to protect and defend all Allies. 
And the right of each nation to choose its own path.

We discussed the recent joint statement by Russia and China.
Where for the first time, China joins Russia in calling on NATO to stop admitting new members.

This is an attempt to deny sovereign nations the right to make their own choices. 
A right enshrined in key international documents.

NATO respects every country’s decision to be part of an alliance or not.  
Our Open Door policy has been an historic success, spreading freedom and security across Europe.

We must respect sovereign decisions, not return to an age of spheres of influence, where the big powers can tell others what they can or cannot do.   
President Duda,

Thank you again for being here today.

NATO can count on Poland,
and Poland can always count on NATO. 

[ Statement of Andrzej Duda President of Poland delivered in Polish.]

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: We’ll go to TVP, lady in blue here.

Dominika Cosic (TVP – TV Poland): Dominika Cosic, Polish Television. I have the same question to both President Duda and Secretary General. I would like to ask: do you consider to sending more troops NATO to Eastern Flank of NATO? Not only American because we observed that… we know the decision of the U.S. but maybe you consider to send more troops also from other countries, Alliance countries. And do you consider also some more action, maybe sanctions against Russia before Russia will attack, will invade Ukraine or maybe some other sovereign state? Thank you.

Andrzej Duda President of Poland: Yes, of course, answering your question. There are two parts to your question. First of all, there is the responsibility of NATO and there is the responsibility of the international community, or the European Union, on military strengthening, on strengthening the readiness to defense, yes. And the answer is yes. And I do believe that NATO's presence in the eastern flank should be increased along the whole eastern flank starting from the north, all the way down to the south.

All countries which would like to receive this strengthening should be given such strengthening. I think it should happen. Of course, it would be most advisable if those forces were as multinational as possible in the meaning of the Alliance. So I hope that the member states of NATO will show their readiness to deploy their soldiers as part of this reinforcement. Let me only recall that Polish soldiers today are already deployed to the eastern flank of NATO. They're present in Latvia as part of Enhanced Forward Presence. They are also present as part of tailored forward presence in Romania in Craiova. So we are implementing our commitments keeping them. We believe this is a very important thing, and I hope that NATO member states will take such a decision in the nearest future that such a reinforcement will happen today. And we have had this decision already taken by the United States.

2000 troops have been deployed by the United States and by the decision of President of the United States. Those troops have been deployed to Poland and generally to the eastern flank. Nevertheless, I would like these decisions to be taken at the level of the whole Alliance. I would like this to be our common decisions and common forces, which would reinforce the Eastern flank.

Now about sanctions about. Today, I talked to Madam President von der Leyen about European sanctions, which are being prepared right now by Madam President and by the European Commission. This is a proposal which will be submitted to the European Council. It is a very detailed in depth work. And I thanked Madam President today that she was so concrete in the meetings before and that she spoke so eloquently about those proposals. I assume that the introduction of these sanctions, if they were necessary to be introduced, I do hope that they will be painful and I hope that it won't pay off to Russia.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: First on the issue of increased presence in eastern part of the Alliance. I actually have three points to make.

One: we have already increase our presence under existing authorities of NATO's Supreme Commander in Europe, SACEUR. He has already increase the presence in the air, on land, and at sea. And we have also seen how NATO Allies like Spain, Denmark, United Kingdom, the United States and others have actually provided more capabilities for surveillance for reassurance activities in the eastern part Alliance and particularly in the Black Sea region. So this has already taken place and it reflects the fact that NATO is there to protect and to defend and also to very closely monitor and follow what's going on in and around Ukraine, also close to NATO borders.

Second, we have increased the readiness of the NATO Response Force. This force can be deployed on very short notice. The lead elements, the very high readiness joint task force, can be deployed within a matter of days with the existing readiness levels. And allies have also committed more troops, especially the United States have assigned 8500 troops to the NATO Response Force. This… these forces can be deployed if needed quickly to NATO territory.

And thirdly, we are considering more longer term adjustments to our posture, our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance. No final decision has been made on that. But there is a process now going on within NATO also of course in close consultation with our military commanders to adjust our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance to further strengthen our deterrence and defense.

If Russia really wants less NATO, close to the borders, they get the opposite. We saw that after 2014 when Russia went in and annexed Crimea and went into Donbass to eastern Ukraine. After that, NATO for the first time in our history deployed battleships to the eastern part of the Alliance, also something we agreed at the Warsaw Summit back in 2016. And since then, NATO allies have stepped up significantly both with higher readiness with more troops and more air policing and more presence in eastern part in general.

So, yes, we have increased presence, we are ready to quickly further increase with the NATO Response Force if needed. And we are looking into more long term adjustments of our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance.

On the sanctions, this is of course - it's not for NATO to decide sanctions, but I welcome the fact that NATO allies, the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and also of course the European Union have made it very clear that if Russia uses force against Ukraine again there will be a high price to pay, also in the form of economic sanctions.

NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu: Okay, we have time for only one question. So we'll go to Polsat, the lady in green.

Dorota Bawolek (POLSAT): It's actually a follow up Secretary General. You increase the military presence at Eastern flank. The decisions were made six years ago.

And now we have thousands of Russian soldiers again. And you are saying that you are not planning to increase it further away, what is expected by Poland, because the last decisions were made years ago and now the security architecture is yet again under a big pressure.

Are you afraid of further escalation?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Well, we have increased the presence over the last weeks. That comes from also NATO.

So first of all, we increased after 2014, especially following…after the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.

And then after the NATO decisions at the Warsaw Summit in 2016 we established the battlegroups in the eastern part of the Alliance. That happened some years ago, you're right.

But then, over the last weeks since Russia started to increase its presence in and around Ukraine with tens of thousands of combat ready troops, more than 100,000 in total, then we have increased our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance. So that has happened recently.

This is partly within existing NATO missions and activities. We call them enhanced and vigilance activities. They are under SACEUR’s current mandate and we have scaled up those activities.

With more planes, with more ships and also more presence not only actually in the Black Sea region or the south eastern part of the Alliance, but also in the eastern part of the Alliance in general.

Then NATO Allies have augmented that further with increased presence.

We see the UK has announced that they have troops and forces.

And then of course, also the United States had actually started to deploy and now sent in more troops to Poland. They are in the process of doing that to Romania. And also some additional personnel to Germany in total around 3000.

So the increased presence I'm talking about is an increased presence over the last weeks. And we are in the process of stepping up. Then we have increased the readiness of the NATO Response Force to be able to deploy it quickly if needed. And the NATO response forces around 40,000 troops that can be deployed on a short notice.  And then on top of that, again, we are discussing more long term adjustments.

So we speak about many different things in total, it's a significant increase, but let me add that our main goal is to find a political solution. And, and we strongly believe in the combination of deterrence and defence and dialogue. And for us there is no contradiction between deterrence and defence and dialogue.

Actually, as long as we are united,  as long as we are strong, you can also talk to Russia. We have invited Russia for dialogue. I reiterate today my invitation to Russia to sit down and to negotiate and talk in good faith. We are ready to discuss a wide range of issues: arms control, disarmament, transparency. And we have conveyed to Russia a document listing all the issues where we think it's possible to find a common ground. We are ready to listen to their concerns. And they should de-escalate and sit down with NATO and NATO Allies and find a peaceful political way forward.

NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu: Thank you very much. This concludes this press conference. Thank you.