Pre-ministerial press conference
by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meetings of NATO Defence Ministers
In two weeks’ time, we will meet in Madrid, all the NATO leaders, at a pivotal moment for our security.
Russia’s war against Ukraine is posing the biggest threat to Euro-Atlantic security in decades.
Russia is now engaged in a brutal war of attrition against the Ukrainian people.
Causing death and devastation on a large-scale.
And with far-reaching consequences and global implications.
As demonstrated by the food and energy crises, deliberately orchestrated by Russia.
In this more dangerous world, we need to make NATO stronger, and further support our partners.
And that is what we will do at this week’s meeting of Defence Ministers.
Tonight we will meet with Ukraine, Georgia, Sweden, Finland, and the European Union.
This will be an opportunity for Defence Minister Reznikov to update us on what Ukraine urgently needs.
And for NATO Allies to make new announcements of support to Ukraine.
Allies are committed to continue providing the military equipment that Ukraine needs to prevail, including heavy weapons and long range systems.
We will also discuss how to step up practical support for other partners at risk, including Bosnia Herzegovina, and Georgia.
Allies and partners have already provided Ukraine with billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment, as well as economic and humanitarian aid.
I expect that at the Summit, NATO Allies will agree a comprehensive assistance package for Ukraine.
Helping Ukraine for the longer-term,
to transition from Soviet-era equipment to modern NATO equipment,
and to improve interoperability with NATO.
Allies are unwavering in their support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our close partners in Europe.
And for the right of each nation to choose its own path, free from outside interference.
The decisions by Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership are historic.
We are now working actively on the next steps in the accession process.
And as we do, we take into account the security concerns of all Allies.
Tomorrow, NATO Defence Ministers will address the need to significantly strengthen our deterrence and defence to respond to a new security reality.
We have already done a lot.
With speed and unity.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,
we have doubled the number of NATO battlegroups to eight,
and extended them from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
Placed over 40,000 troops under direct NATO command,
mainly on the eastern flank.
Backed by major air and naval power.
And increased our readiness and exercises.
We will now take decisions on the scale and design of our posture for the longer term.
To ensure that we can defend every inch of Allied territory.
From the first moment,
at all times,
and against any threat.
This will mean more presence, more capabilities, and higher readiness.
With more NATO forward deployed combat formations to strengthen our battlegroups in the East.
More air, sea and cyber defences, pre-positioned equipment and weapon stockpiles.
And a new force model, with more forces at higher readiness, and specific forces pre-assigned to the defence of specific Allies.
I welcome Germany’s intention to strengthen its engagement in Lithuania, where it leads our NATO battlegroup.
And develop it towards a more robust combat brigade.
Other Allies are also considering what more they can do.
Our decisions will make NATO stronger.
And ensure that we can deter any attack across all domains.
Stronger defences in a more dangerous world require more investment.
And more investment together.
Since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, in 2014, we have seen seven consecutive years of rising defence investments across European Allies and Canada.
Allies are also investing more in modern capabilities, and contributing to NATO deployments and exercises.
This is the right trend.
And it needs to continue for the longer term.
To rise to the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Let me add in closing that the US-led Ukraine Support Contact Group is also meeting today at NATO to discuss
Ukraine’s urgent needs for military equipment.
And I thank the United States for its leadership and coordination.
With that, I am ready to take your questions.
Jonathan Beale (BBC): Thank you very much, Jonathan Beale from BBC. Thank you. Secretary General, just a quick question on the weapons. I mean, Ukraine's deputy Defence Minister has said they've only got 10… being given 10% of the weapons and ammo they've asked for. Do you think NATO countries are doing enough to supply Ukraine with lethal aid? And the second question is about Sweden and Finland. We've heard from Turkey that they want to postpone or delay that membership. Do you think… Do you accept that Sweden and Finland's membership of NATO is going to take longer than you had hoped? Thank you.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: We will meet the Ukrainian Defence Minister today to discuss exactly how we can improve the way we are delivering support. The starting point is that NATO Allies and partners have delivered unprecedented levels of support to Ukraine over the last months. Actually NATO Allies and NATO has, have supported Ukraine for many years. We started back in 2014 to train and equip the Ukrainian Armed Forces. So the Ukrainian Armed Forces were much better equipped, much better trained, much larger and stronger now than they were back in 2014. And that's one of the reasons they’ve been able to stand up against invasion from Russia.
But of course after the invasion there was an urgent need to step up, and that's exactly what Allies and partners have done, with more equipment, more advanced equipment, heavy weapons systems, and also with more training outside Ukraine. It's always important to be as closely coordinated and consult as closely as possible with Ukraine on what types of weapons, how to get the weapons in and what kind of training and maintenance they need to ensure that these weapons are really making a difference on the battlefield. And that's exactly the reason why it's important that we meet the Ukrainian Defence Minister Reznikov today, and why we also have the meeting, not only the NATO Defence Ministers meeting with the Ukrainian Defence Minister, but also that we have the US-led contact group for Ukraine meeting also today here at NATO to coordinate the efforts of NATO Allies and partners in providing support. So we are extremely focused on stepping up, providing more support, more advanced weapons, and also to do that in the best possible way for Ukrainians because we support them in their just fight against the brutal Russian invasion.
Then on Finland and Sweden. We are now in very close contact both with Finland and Sweden. I met with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and President Sauli Niinistö over the weekend and I welcome the fact that Finland and Sweden are ready to address some of the concerns that Türkiye has put forward on terrorism. And we are also of course working very closely with our NATO Ally, Türkiye on those concerns they have raised. So we are looking for ways to find a solution to these issues as soon as possible, so Sweden and Finland can become members as soon as possible. I cannot tell you exactly when, but I can only tell you that what we do in NATO is the same thing we do always when there are differences and that is consult, discuss, and then find a way to address concerns and the united way forward.
Iryna Somer (Interfax Ukraine): Thank you, Secretary General. Iryna Somer, news agency Interfax Ukraine. I would like to ask you if Mr. Zelensky, Ukrainian president, will be invited for the Madrid Summit and if yes, in which format? Can they expect something like NATO-Ukraine Commission or it will be something different? And second question is on Friday, this Friday, we expect that European Commission will issue conclusions regarding our status, candidate status, for Ukraine in the EU. And expectations are that this conclusion will be positive, that yes, European Commission will recommend to grant to Ukraine status of candidacy into the European Union. Don't you think that if Ukraine is ready to be a candidate for EU, it's also ready to be a candidate for NATO? Thank you.
NATO Secretary General: President Zelensky will be invited to the NATO Summit in Madrid. He will be invited to address all the leaders, so when we meet together there at the end of the month. He is of course welcome to come in person, if that's not possible for him he will address also by videoconference, by VTC. We will… We very much look forward to President Zelensky addressing all Allied leaders. These leaders are extremely committed to support Ukraine and also to express their solidarity and also demonstrate that solidarity not only in words, but also in deeds. And as President Zelensky also addressed the last Summit we had here in Brussels in March, he will also then address and take part in the Summit in Madrid in two weeks’ time.
Then, Ukraine is an aspirant for NATO membership. Our focus now is to help them in the fight against the brutal Russian invasion, to help them with practical support, with lethal and non-lethal aid from NATO Allies and NATO, and then also to help Ukraine to modernise, continue to modernise, its armed forces, something NATO Allies have worked on for many years, but stepped up now, including the transition from Soviet era equipment to modern NATO equipment. This is our focus and I think the most urgent need in our relationship with Ukraine as we speak.
Tamara Nutsubidze (RUSTAVI 2 TV): I have the same question as my Ukrainian colleague. As we know, Georgia is also invited in Madrid. So is it clear which kind of format will be there for our country and what can we expect there in Madrid for Georgia? Thank you.
NATO Secretary General: Georgia is invited to participate in the meeting with the leaders. I think that's an important expression of the solidarity and the close partnership we have between Georgia and NATO. I think that not least in light of the brutal invasion of Ukraine, it's even more important that the NATO Allies step up their support to other partners that are vulnerable for Russian aggression. Of course, Georgia is one of these countries. Russia has already invaded parts of Georgia, controls parts of Georgian territory, and therefore I also expect that Allies will agree on concrete steps to further strengthen the practical partnership, the way we work together on training, on capacity building, on reforms, to increase Georgia's ability to stand up against Russian intervention and efforts to undermine the stability and territorial integrity of Georgia.
Dan Michaels (Wall Street Journal): Dan Michaels with the Wall Street Journal. It's clear as you say that NATO Allies have delivered unprecedented amounts of weapons over recent months to Ukraine. But it was about two months ago that Foreign Minister Kuleba was here and said that the three items on his agenda were weapons, weapons and more weapons. Given the situation, do you think that NATO members have felt sufficient urgency in responding to Ukraine's request with the quantity and quality of weapons that the leadership in Kyiv says they need, especially given what the impact on NATO and its members would be if Russia were to prevail in Ukraine? Thank you.
NATO Secretary General: NATO leaders realise the urgency and that's also the reason why we have stepped up significantly over the last months since the invasion. And actually we started before the invasion because if anything, this invasion was very well predicted by our intelligence services. So not only have we provided the support to Ukraine since 2014, but Allies also started to step up in the last weeks and months in the run up to the invasion and then after even more. Then of course, sometimes these efforts take time and that's exactly why it is important to have a meeting like we have today, both at the NATO ministerial level but also in the US-led contact group to meet with the Ukrainian representatives, to identify the challenges and the issues they would like to raise with us when it comes to how to speed up delivery of weapons. And of course, you also have to recognise that we now are delivering more long-range, more advanced air defence systems, more advanced artillery, more heavy weapons, more modern NATO standard weapons. Then sometimes it also will take some time to train, to ensure the necessary maintenance and the necessary support for these systems. So it is also a fact that we now are actually starting the transition from Soviet era weapons to more modern NATO weapons. They will be also some time needed to just make the Ukrainians ready to use and operate these systems.
But that just highlights the importance of doing this in the best possible way, in the closest possible coordination with the Ukrainians. And also not only deliver of course weapons, but also a lot of non-lethal aid which is of critical importance: fuel, medical supplies, different types of protective gear, and many other types of supply, including, of course, training and support in NATO Allied countries. Yesterday I was together with seven NATO leaders in Den Haag and they all went through different activities where they provide support to Ukraine and for instance, the Dutch Prime Minister told us about how they are now in the process of delivering howitzers to Ukraine, including with training of Ukrainians who are going to operate these more advanced weapons systems. So we see… We are working closely with Ukraine to overcome all hurdles in our efforts to provide as much support as possible, as quickly as possible. Because there is an urgent need for support, Ukraine is really in a very critical situation and therefore there’s an urgent need to step up.
Lili Bayer (POLITICO): Thank you very much, Lili Bayer from Politico. I have two brief questions. The first is: could you update us on where you think the landing zone will be in the debate over the new force posture along the eastern flank? And the second thing is, is there anything NATO is considering or looking at doing to indirectly or directly help get Ukrainian grain to world markets? Thank you.
NATO Secretary General: First on the grain, an export of food and grain from Ukraine, that's extremely critical. We see the spike in the food and grain prices and this just demonstrates the global ramifications, consequences of this war. And this is not caused by NATO or sanctions or Western sanctions against Russia. This is a direct consequence of Russia's war against Ukraine. I say this because I also see that Russia tries in a way to create the narrative that the spike in the grain prices is caused by our sanctions. That's not correct. It's caused by the war. And the best way to reduce food prices, to get grain out of Ukraine, is to stop the war, for Russia to stop the illegal war against Ukraine. As long as the war continues, then of course we need to address how to get grain out by other means. There are some efforts, there will be some limitations in the scale but there are some efforts to get some grain out also on land and NATO Allies, the European countries, are involved in that. And last time I spoke to President Erdogan, one of the main issues he updated me on is also the efforts by Türkiye to try to facilitate some kind of agreement that could enable export of grain on boat over the Black Sea. I really hope that these efforts can lead to something but it's too early to say to what extent that will be successful those efforts. But Türkiye as a NATO Ally is heavily involved in those efforts, as other Allies also try to support and find ways to get the grain out.
Then on the force model. Well, what is clear is that will significantly strengthen our deterrence and defence. This is, of course, very much about the east but it's about the whole of NATO in all domains and across the whole Alliance, because we need to be prepared for threats and attacks from all directions. But of course, with the current situation in Ukraine, of course, it's also very much about the East. We have already increased significantly our presence there, doubling the number of battlegroups from four to eight, high-readiness forces. What we will do now is to scale up, do more both when it comes to presence in the East, scale of the battle groups – and for instance, Germany, and we also expect other Allies to be ready to step up their presence. And we have to remember that since the invasion, Germany has doubled its presence in Lithuania, the UK has practically doubled its presence in Estonia. The US, the United States, they have increased their presence in Europe with roughly 30% from around 70,000 troops to more than 100,000 troops. So this significant increase is already taking place.
Then built on that we will have a combination of different things. We will have more presence, especially in these East, forward presence, scalable presence, but more presence of combat formations. We will have more pre-positioned equipment. I think the war in Ukraine has demonstrated the need for supplies, for ammunition and of course you can much faster reinforce if you already have the heavy material pre-positioned in the East. And for the first time since the Cold War we will have pre-assigned forces to specific countries in the East, linked to our defence plans. And that's exactly what we're working on with Germany, but we expect other Allies to make similar offers, to have pre assigned forces that are training and are responsible for the defence of specific territories. And then of course, naval, air, cyber, command and control, many elements that will be part of the package we will agree at the NATO Summit in two weeks’ time.
Gul Sonomut (NTV): Gul Sonomut from NTV. Two short questions. Secretary General, initially the Summit was about Strategic Concept and NATO 2030. So bearing in mind the new threat posed by Russia, is there kind of… or can you say that there is an agreement on the updated Strategic Concept? And with regard to NATO 2030 does… is there a consensus to give more power to you as a Secretary General in order to have a more efficient institution? And with regard to Sweden and Finland, could we expect at Madrid that they at least have the status of invitee countries so that that may pave the way to a full membership by the end of the year? Thank you.
NATO Secretary General: NATO doesn't have the luxury of choosing only one challenge or only one task, we need to do many things at the same time. So this Summit will reflect exactly that. We will agree a new Strategic Concept that will reflect the new security reality. We have to remember that the current Strategic Concept agreed in 2010 at the Lisbon Summit, in that Strategic Concept we referred to Russia as a ‘strategic partner’. And I was at that Summit as Prime Minister, and I remember Prime Minister Medvedev from Russia was attending that Summit ten years ago. Of course, now we are not going to refer to Russia as a ‘strategic partner’. We said that Europe is… that the Euro-Atlantic area is at peace, now we have war in Europe. And we didn't mention China with a single word. And I'm certain that in the next Strategic Concept we will agree in Madrid we will also address the security consequences of China. We will not refer to China as an adversary but we will take into account that this matters also for our security. And it will address many other challenges and threats, be the blueprint for NATO into a more dangerous future. So we will agree a Strategic Concept.
We will also make important decisions on further significantly strengthening NATO's deterrence and defence. Forward presence, higher readiness, pre-assigned forces, more pre-positioned equipment and more efforts across all domains. We will invest funding, both the need to continue to invest more in the national defence budgets but also invest more together in NATO. Partnerships will be an important part of the Summit. For the first time in our history we will invite our Asia Pacific partners, the Prime Ministers of New Zealand, Australia, Japan and also the President of South Korea will participate in the NATO Summit, which is a strong demonstration of our close partnership with these like-minded countries in the Asia Pacific.
And then we will agree a comprehensive assistance package for Ukraine. President Zelensky will be at the Summit and we will also of course address Swedish and Finnish applications for NATO membership. It's too early to say how far we will be able to get by the Summit. The Summit has never been a deadline. But I work hard to try to solve, and many other capitals and people in my staff work hard to solve, the concerns, or address the concerns, that Türkiye has raised and hopefully we can have some progress by the Summit but it's too early to say.
(Lithuanian National Radio and Television): Good morning thank you for the floor, [Inaudible] from Lithuanian National Radio and Television. Yesterday, the Financial Times reported that Germany is backing up on plans to base extra troops in Lithuania and we are hearing that those forces will stay in Germany but they will be pre-assigned to Lithuania in case of emergency or something. Does that mean that Lithuania and other Baltic States cannot hope for any extra troops, which would be based actually in those countries and not 100 kilometres away? And also what this new pre-assigned forces model means for the security of Baltic States versus forces being actually on the ground. Thank you very much.
NATO Secretary General: It remains to be decided or the exact details of the new force structure and the implications for specific countries as for instance, Lithuania, but what I can say is the following is that it entails different elements and one element is more forward presence. We have to remember that Germany has all today practically doubled its presence in Romania, adding to the existing battlegroup with almost an additional battalion. Also, other Allies have increased their presence in the NATO multinational battlegroup, in Lithuania, that has already taken place over the last weeks. Second, there will be headquarter elements, which is extremely critical for operating commanding and controlling any reinforcement big or small. Thirdly, there will be pre-positioned equipment. And of course if you have the heavy equipment, the heavy material already pre-positioned, it actually goes quickly to the people. So, the preposition equipment weapons is essential for any rapid reinforcement.
Then we will have pre assigned forces and you are correct that they and not all of them will be deployed permanently in Lithuania or in any other countries in eastern part of the Alliance. But the new thing is that they will be earmarked pre-assigned for that specific territory, meaning that they will train, they will rotate in and out, they will know the country the territory they have worked together on interoperability working with the home defence forces and they have pre-designed tasks. So it is this and then of course more naval and more air. We have also for instance now Spain stepping up with more air defences in the Baltic region and other Allies are stepping up with more air and naval presence.
So to sum up that that it will be a combination of more forward presence of troops, more forward command and control headquarters, more forward deployed stocks, fuels, weapon systems, especially heavy weapons, and then pre-assigned troops that will train regularly in the different countries in the eastern part of the Alliance. And again, the starting point is that over the last weeks we have more, almost doubled the battle group in Lithuania, doubled the battle group in in Estonia, doubled the number of battlegroups from four to eight. And we also have for instance, France and Belgium and other Allies being part of the NATO increased presence in in Romania, and the US has significantly increased their presence. And these are troops that may be based in Germany or Poland but they are rotating around not least in the eastern part of the Alliance. So altogether this is significantly strengthening our deterrence and defence across the whole Alliance. But especially in eastern part of the Alliance.
Ansgar Haase (DPA): Ansgar Haase, the German Press Agency DPA, Secretary General, can you tell us a little bit more about this new comprehensive assistance package for Ukraine? Does it include only financial assistance or is it also about a military training mission or things like this? Thank you.
NATO Secretary General: We have to understand that NATO and NATO Allies support Ukraine in many different ways. We have a lot of bilateral support, and we strongly welcome that. I expect new announcements at the meeting today. Both the ministerial meeting and also the ministerial meeting of the Ukraine contact group, Support group for Ukraine led by the United States also taking place today. But then we have the comprehensive package, which is another element of support from NATO allies and NATO. And that is party, First of all, it builds on what they have done for many years. And second, it is very much about enabling the Ukrainians to transition from Soviet era from old equipment to more modern NATO standard equipment. That transition requires a lot of, how shall I say, sharing of knowledge, of expertise, enabling them to do this quite challenging move from a more Armed Forces based on more old systems to more modern systems. And it's also very much about interoperability, ensuring that they have the standards, that they have the routines, that they have the command and control that enable them to have interoperability also with other NATO Allied countries. It's a combination of practical support, capacity building and also scale up the funding for this comprehensive package. And that comes also on top of on what the NATO allies and what NATO is delivering, when it comes to different types of protective equipment, UAVs, and other systems, non-lethal systems which are critical for Ukraine. So, the comprehensive package is about scaling up, doing more, and not least helping them more with the long term adaptation of Ukrainian armed forces.
Sabine Siebold (Reuters): Sabine Siebold, Reuters. Secretary General, you were talking about the transition to Western weapons. Does that also mean that Allies will start to supply Ukraine with weapons they want to have but they are not getting from the West yet, like Western made battle tanks?
NATO Secretary General: So first of all, Allies have already started to significantly provide Western weapons, NATO standard weapons, including very advanced air defence systems, multiple rocket systems, and also other types of not least, advanced Western artillery. We are also providing different types of armoured vehicles and a wide range of these different systems. I cannot tell you exactly what kind of announcements that will be made today. But there are now really a wide range of different systems including heavy systems, armoured systems and weapons which are provided by NATO Allies to Ukraine. And we see an unprecedented level of support from NATO Allies. Then I fully understand that being in Ukraine, seeing all the death, all the destruction, seeing the brutal war taking place not least in Donbas, there is an urgent need for even more, and that's exactly what we're going to address today. With the Ukrainians, how can we provide more support and how can we ensure that that support reaches them as soon as possible?
Question: [Inaudible]. So, I have a specific question about Ankara’s trip, about delays, possible delayed at least one year. So what kind of measures from NATO you are taking? Just a specified to me Thank you.
NATO Secretary General: The application of Finland and Sweden to join NATO are historic decisions by Finland and Sweden. I welcome them. I think it will strengthen Finland and Sweden. It will strengthen Europe, it will strengthen NATO and it will help to ensure stability across the whole Euro-Atlantic area. It also demonstrates that NATO’s door is open and that Finland and Sweden they make their own sovereign decisions. It's not President Putin that decides what Finland and Sweden can and cannot do. At the same time Türkiye, an important Ally, has expressed some concerns about some specific issues especially related to the fight against terrorism. And when an Ally, In this case, Türkiye raises some concerns. And these are legitimate concerns related to their fight against the PKK, a group, and other terrorist organisations, the PKK is a group which is prescribed, recognised as a terrorist organisation by NATO Allies by the European Union, and also by Finland and Sweden. Then of course we need to sit down, address those concerns and that is exactly what we are doing and I welcome the signal and the messages from Finland and Sweden, that they are ready to actually take actions and to work closely, more closely, with Türkiye to address their concerns, their security concerns not least related to terrorism. My aim is to solve this issue as soon as possible. But, since we are several nations involved in this process, there is no way to tell you exactly when we will solve it but I'm confident that Finland and Sweden will become Members of NATO also because Türkiye has made declared that they are in favour of NATO's open door policy. They see the value of enlargement but they have some specific concerns that we have to address together.
Beatriz Navarro (La Vanguardia): Thank you for the floor Oana, Beatriz Navarro from La Vanguardia. I have a question again on the reinforcement of the NATO presence in the eastern flank. I understand the basis for the decision not to have a permanent presence but a persistent presence on a rotatory basis, with the Founding Act signed by NATO and Russia in 1997. I'm wondering whether this legal basis is still a stand for you for NATO, or they died February 24th When Russia invaded Ukraine. Thank you.
NATO Secretary General: So Russia has walked away from the NATO Russia Founding Act, the main principles there, not least the respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries in Europe and by invading Ukraine of course that's a blatant violation of NATO Russia Founding Act. This Act doesn't limit our ability to increase our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance. And it doesn't limit our ability to strengthen our posture in general across the whole Alliance.
Let me add that that Putin's goals goes beyond Ukraine. That was clearly stated in the so-called security treaties he proposed for the United States and NATO in December last year. We actually had a meeting here at NATO in January where we sat down with Russia and tried to find diplomatic solution, and also where we provided our responses to those proposals from Russia. In those proposals, they, of course, threatened Ukraine, but also threatened NATO by saying that there should be no further NATO enlargement and they also wanted NATO to agree to remove all troops and all NATO infrastructure from NATO Allies that had joined after 1997. If we had accepted that, we would first of all have violated the fundamental principle of all countries to choose their own path including Finland and Sweden joining NATO. And, the Finnish president had said that it was actually when Russia wanted to close the door to NATO, that they realised that they had to move into NATO. And also the idea that we should remove all forces and infrastructure from the eastern part of the Alliance would actually mean that we were going to into some kind of first and second class NATO membership. So we of course, didn't accept those proposals. But it demonstrates that President Putin's goals goes beyond Ukraine, and that's the reason why we need to both provide support to Ukraine as we do, but also strengthen our deterrence and defence not least in the eastern part of the Alliance.
Natalia Drozdiak (Bloomberg): Natalia Drozdiak from Bloomberg. I just had two points that I want to clarify. Just first on the posture you said we can expect more troops on the eastern flank at least preassigned, what volume are we talking about? Germany spoke about brigade level is that what we'll see in other eastern flank countries as well. And just on the Turkey, Finland, and Sweden issue I wanted to clarify because a few weeks ago you said you know you expected that they would be invitees by Madrid. And today in the last few days, you've said the Madrid summit was never a deadline. So does that suggest your expectations have changed about what will be possible before Madrid? Thank you.
NATO Secretary General: I was more optimistic then, that's correct because at that stage, we didn't have any information indicating that this will be a problem. Then, since then, we saw the concerns expressed by Türkiye, and therefore this will take some more time than we originally expected. So, that's a new aspect of the whole process, because until Türkiye expressed their concerns we had no reasons to believe that this will be a problem for NATO Allies. Then some problems have been put to the table and then it will take some more time. And we need to of course address those concerns those issues. And that's exactly what we are doing. And we have positive signals from Finland and Sweden, and we are working closely with our Ally Türkiye to solve them. So yes, there is a difference now compared to where we were, already thought we were, earlier in this process. The other, on it, I don't envisage that we will have exactly the same formations in all countries on the eastern flank. Germany has already announced their willingness to provide to scale up to a brigade with a combination of forward presence, forward pre-positioned equipment, forward command and control with pre-assigned forces in Germany that trains and exercises in Lithuania. So, it will be a combination of more forward presence and more pre-assigned forces.
The United Kingdom has indicated and they are now discussing what kind of increased presence they can have in Estonia but I also expect that to be significant and maybe also this combination of presence and pre-assigned forces. And then other Allies have mentioned, Spain, for instance, and other Allies also, Denmark, other Allies have also announced readiness to increase their presence as part of a bigger NATO build up, especially in the East. We have France part of the NATO presence in Romania, in Romania and in Poland, we also have significant US presence. Some of this US presence is outside the NATO framework, but it still is of course still contributing to the overall efforts all NATO and NATO Allies. So especially the US increased from also from 70,000, roughly to more than 100,000 roughly in Europe. That's a huge difference. It makes a huge difference that they are there. Most of these troops are not permanently based, but they are rotating and making a significant difference for our deterrence and defence. So, the answer is not the same formation in every country, but in several countries. I expect this to be brigade-sized formations based on partly forward precedence and partly forward deployed equipment and partly pre-assigned forces. Thank you.