by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III
Secretary Austin, welcome to the NATO Headquarters.
It’s great to see you again. And thank you for your strong personal commitment to NATO, to the transatlantic bond, and for your leadership, not least when it comes to providing support to Ukraine. And the Ukrainians have launched their counter-offensive, they are making gains. And of course, this is due to the bravery and the skills of the Ukrainian forces. But the support from NATO Allies is also of course critical.
And when we meet in the NATO-Ukraine Commission shortly, the main message there will be that we need to sustain and step up our support for Ukraine.
At our meeting and our discussions here today and tomorrow we will also prepare for the upcoming Vilnius Summit, where the message will be about support to Ukraine, but also the need to strengthen our own deterrence and defence.
This is about new plans, new force structure and higher readiness of forces.
But it’s also about increased defence spending. And I know that the United States has been very clear on this for a long time.
And NATO Allies have stepped up. Since 2014 we have seen that the European Allies and Canada have added 350 billion extra for defence.
And at the Vilnius Summit I expect that Allies will agree an even stronger commitment to increase defence spending.
Two percent will not be a kind of ceiling we are striving towards, but 2% of GDP for defence should be a minimum of what we have to spend on defence, to ensure our collective defence and our deterrence and defence as a strong NATO Alliance.
There are many other issues to address, but once again, Lloyd, welcome to NATO.