Opening statement by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Philip M. Breedlove, at the joint press point following the 171st NATO Chiefs of Defence meeting

General Philip M. Breedlove, at the joint press point following the 171st NATO Chiefs of Defence meeting

  • 22 May. 2014 -
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  • Last updated: 23 May. 2014 09:06

General Philip Breedlove (Supreme Allied Commander Europe)

The last time that I met with my fellow military leaders across NATO here in Brussels, we all shared the expectation that national boundaries would be respected here in Europe. 

Unfortunately, as you all know, this is not the case today. So this is an important time in our Alliance's history.  We're at the crossroad deciding how we are going to adapt in the long run to address an aggressive neighbour. 

And we are starkly remembered of our core, common security task.  We've had some very productive discussions today, talking a great deal about the current situation in Ukraine and NATO's response to the shift we see in the European security environment. 

The events in Ukraine have changed the assumptions underlying European security.  But it has also affirmed the strength of our transatlantic link.  Today, we are in the midst of providing a broad set of assurance measures for our members in NATO's eastern region.  We have increased our activity in the air, on the sea and on the land; as well, demonstrating our capability but also our unity in our unshakeable commitment to our common defence.  We plan to sustain this increased activity over the coming months as well, by continuing the new ones and augmenting previously planned activities such as our exercises.

These measures give our members and our partners more opportunities to hone their skills and practice working together as a cohesive group within the NATO command structure. 

NATO must undergo a strategic adaptation to address Russia's use of snap exercises, cyber-activities and covert operations to achieve their State objectives.  With this fundamental change is our security environment, we must transform.  It will cost money, time and effort.  But upholding our common values has always, been worth the cost.  We are all closely watching events in Eastern Ukraine as the country prepares for elections on May the 25th.  We are, of course, also focused on the activities of the Russian troops still massed on the Ukrainian border. 

We've heard several reports that these troops were pulling back to their permanent bases in the past couple of days.  We looked forward to any de-escalation of the coercive pressure that that force still represents.  Of course, as we move forward, NATO will continue to support a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Meanwhile, we will continue to train together, reassuring our Allies and strengthening our collective readiness to respond appropriately in this new security environment. Thank you.