with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson
Welcome back to NATO Headquarters.
It is always a pleasure to have you here.
And many thanks also to the United Kingdom for being a strong and staunch Ally, which really contributes to our collective defence in many different ways.
We have just addressed Russia’s military build-up in and around Ukraine.
Russia has already massed well over 100,000 combat-ready troops.
With heavy equipment, missiles and key enablers such as command and control and medical units.
And we are closely monitoring Russia’s deployment in Belarus, which is the biggest since the end of the Cold War.
This is a dangerous moment for European security.
The number of Russian forces is going up.
The warning time for a possible attack is going down.
NATO is not a threat to Russia.
But we must be prepared for the worst, while remaining strongly committed to finding a political solution.
The UK is playing a leading role.
Delivering both militarily and diplomatically.
I welcome your offer of more troops, ships and planes to NATO.
And the additional troops that you are deploying to Poland showed Allied solidarity in action.
The UK leads NATO’s battlegroup in Estonia.
You contribute to NATO’s Air Policing.
And the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales leads NATO’s maritime high readiness force.
All of this sends a clear message that we will defend and protect all Allies.
We also have active diplomacy right across the Alliance, with NATO leaders working to get Russia to de-escalate.
I welcome your support to Ukraine.
As well as your recent contact with President Putin, and the visit of Foreign Secretary Truss to Moscow today.
This morning I have sent a letter to Foreign Minister Lavrov.
Reiterating my invitation to Russia to continue our dialogue in a series of meetings in the NATO-Russia Council.
To find a diplomatic way forward.
We are prepared to listen to Russia’s concerns,
and ready to discuss ways to uphold and strengthen the fundamental principles of European security that we have all signed up to.
We have proposed mutual briefings on exercises and nuclear policies.
Ways to increase transparency and reduce risks in military activities.
Reduce space and cyber threats.
And a serious conversation on arms control.
Including nuclear weapons and ground-based intermediate and shorter range missiles.
These areas represent an agenda for meaningful dialogue.
But NATO will not compromise on core principles.
The right of each nation to choose its own path.
And NATO’s ability to protect and defend all Allies.
Next week, NATO Defence Ministers will assess options to further strengthen Allied security.
This includes the possibility of additional battlegroups in the south-eastern part of our Alliance.
Renewed Russian aggression will lead to more NATO presence, not less.
Thank you again for the United Kingdom’s strong commitment to our transatlantic alliance.
And for your strong personal commitment to NATO.
So once again, welcome.