by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the release of his Annual Report 2022
Today, I am presenting my Annual Report for 2022.
This report sums up the main activities of our Alliance in the last year.
2022 was a pivotal year for our security.
Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine is now entering its second year.
President Putin made a big strategic mistake when he invaded Ukraine.
He expected Kyiv would fall within days, and the whole of Ukraine within weeks.
But he underestimated the steely resistance of the Ukrainian people.
He thought he could break NATO unity.
But NATO Allies are standing strong and united, and providing unprecedented support for Ukraine.
And he wanted less NATO.
But he has got exactly the opposite.
In response to Russia’s illegal war, Finland and Sweden decided to apply for NATO membership.
Which will double the length of NATO’s border with Russia.
At the NATO Summit in Madrid last June,
all Allies took the historic decision to invite Finland and Sweden to join.
Both countries have addressed Türkiye’s legitimate security concerns.
And delivered on their commitments under the Trilateral Memorandum, agreed in Madrid.
Türkiye is now ready to ratify Finland’s membership of NATO.
I welcome that decision.
And I look forward to the Grand National Assembly ratifying Finland’s accession before the upcoming Turkish general election.
I also welcome that the Hungarian parliament will vote on Finland next week.
The most important thing is that both Finland and Sweden become full members of NATO quickly.
Not whether they join at exactly the same time.
And I will continue to work hard to ensure that Sweden becomes a full member as soon as possible.
Because the accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer.
Our Alliance stronger.
And demonstrate that NATO’s door remains open.
President Putin wants a different Europe.
He sees democracy and freedom as a threat.
And he seeks to control its neighbours.
So even if the war in Ukraine ended tomorrow,
The security environment has changed for the long-term.
Putin’s invasion last year was a shock, but it was not a surprise.
It was the culmination of a pattern of aggressive action.
And in response, since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014,
NATO has implemented the largest reinforcement of our collective defence in a generation.
So when Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, we were ready.
Within hours, we activated our defence plans.
From the Baltic to the Black Sea.
We put 40,000 troops under NATO command.
With a significant air and maritime presence.
And doubled the number of NATO battlegroups from four to eight.
At the same time, NATO Allies have provided Ukraine with significant support.
Supplying advanced weapons systems and ammunition to help Ukraine defend itself and regain territory.
We are also in the process of agreeing new capability targets for the production of battle-decisive ammunition.
And engaging with industry to ramp up production.
To support Ukraine against Russia’s aggression.
And for our own defence.
NATO is increasing the protection of our critical national infrastructure.
Including undersea cables and pipelines.
We have set up an Undersea Infrastructure Coordination Cell here at NATO headquarters.
And established a joint NATO-EU Task Force.
At our Summit in Madrid last June, NATO Allies agreed a further fundamental shift in our deterrence and defence.
With new plans assigning specific forces to defend specific Allies.
Higher readiness, more stocks, and more pre-positioned equipment.
And even stronger command and control arrangements.
We agreed a new Strategic Concept, the first in a decade.
To guide our Alliance in an era of strategic competition.
It identifies Russia as the most significant threat to our security.
Along with the ongoing threat of terrorism.
And makes clear that China challenges our interests, security and values.
2022 was the eighth consecutive year of increased defence spending across Europe and Canada.
Last year, defence spending increased by 2.2% in real terms.
Since Allies agreed the Defence Investment Pledge in 2014, European Allies and Canada have spent an additional $350 billion extra on defence.
Many Allies have also announced significant defence spending increases since Russia’s invasion.
Now these pledges must turn into real cash, contracts, and concrete equipment.
Because defence spending underpins everything we do.
Since 2014, Allies have increased defence spending and we are moving in the right direction.
But we are not moving as fast as the dangerous world we live in demands.
So while I welcome all the progress that has been made,
it is obvious that we need to do more.
And we need to do it faster.
At our Summit in Vilnius in July, I expect Allies to agree a more ambitious new defence investment pledge.
With 2% of GDP as a minimum to be invested in our defence.
In this new and more contested world, we cannot take our security for granted.
It is our security that underpins our prosperity and our way of life.
Our latest polling shows that 82% of people across the 30 NATO Allies believe it is important that North America and Europe work together for our shared security.
And 61% agree that NATO membership makes an attack from a foreign nation less likely.
NATO has enabled Europe and North America to live in peace for almost 75 years.
But today’s world is as dangerous as at any time since the Second World War.
The years to come will be challenging.
And NATO must continue to rise to the challenge.
And with that, I am ready to take your questions.