Joint press conference

by the Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Christopher Cavoli

  • 16 May. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 16 May. 2024 20:00

(As delivered)

Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The NATO Military Committee has just concluded its meeting. 

This morning, the Allied Chiefs of Defence were briefed by the Chief of Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces:  Major General Anatoliy Barhylevych.

He informed us of the situation on the ground, which remains very difficult. 

The delays in support have meant serious consequences on the battlefield.

Nevertheless, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are fiercely resisting the Russian attacks. 

And I want to stipulate that today is the 813th (!) day of what Russia thought would be a 3-day war. 

Ukraine has demonstrated the world that it has the ability to achieve unprecedented success on the battlefield.

There is nothing they cannot do. All they need… is our help.  

Luckily, more help is underway.

We will do everything in our power to make sure that that help reaches them as soon as possible. 

And at the same time, we are also actively working on maximising interoperability between Allied and Ukrainian Armed Forces. 

Every day, we are growing closer and more interconnected. 

Until one day, the Ukrainian flag will be hoisted in front of this headquarters. 

As the NATO Secretary General has rightly stated: it is not too late for Ukraine to prevail. 

Ukraine’s freedom cannot, must not, and will not die.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The world is on a historical crossroads, not only between democracy and autocracy. 

This is very much also about impunity versus accountability. 

Our choice is clear. 

Allied Armed forces will do everything they can to make sure that the rules based international order and the democratic values we uphold; remain firmly in place. 

We strive to protect a system in which those in power are held accountable for their actions. 

And that means that our job is twofold: we need to keep supporting Ukraine and at the same time strengthen our own deterrence and defence. 

At our sessions today, the Allied Chiefs of Defence discussed how we can increase the executability of the new defence plans that were approved in Vilnius last year. 

This ensures that we are ready to face current as well as future threats. 

What helps us, is that the ground-breaking work for integrating and interlinking NATO and national defence plans has already been done.

Now, we must actively work to make sure we can execute these plans with a minimum amount of risk. 

NATO is stronger and readier than it has ever been. 

But we want and need to do more, in order to deter and defend any potential threat.

And with that, I would like to give the floor to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe. General Cavoli, the floor is yours.


Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Christopher Cavoli

Good afternoon everybody. It's great to have the opportunity to speak with you after today's very productive CHODs session.

So as Admiral Bauer pointed out, at the NATO summit in Vilnius last July, Allied Heads of State and Government approved our regional plans. And this gave Allied Command Operations, the Command I command, the necessary framework to move forward with modernizing our collective defence system.

And since then, we've made great strides in ensuring our plans are executable. It's clear that the plans provide everything our Alliance needs to defend every inch of NATO territory. And we're rigorously testing those plans at every opportunity and refining them as we go forward.

This past January for example we began Exercise Steadfast Defender, which is the largest  NATO exercise since the end of the Cold War. It is the first live exercise to test our family of plans in an Article Five scenario. This is a very big advance. Over the past three and a half months, more than 90,000 personnel, from all 32 Allies, have been training shoulder to shoulder towards collective defence. We've rehearsed our ability to rapidly generate combat power and we have verified our formations' interoperability at scale. 

So of course, a major element of modernizing our collective defence system is ensuring that we can operate at that scale, large scale, to synchronize multi domain operations across the theatre. So, we're rebuilding our structures, our mechanisms, and our procedures throughout Allied Command Operations. We've recreated SHAPE as a strategic warfighting headquarters. We've streamlined how nations offer forces to NATO. And we are adapting our Joint Force Commands for their new tasks at hand. 

We've done all this very rapidly. The pace of modernization throughout the Alliance right now is astounding, be it in structure, procedure or process. We still have much to do, of course, but Allies have responded with a sense of urgency, we are more committed now than ever. And now that we've refocused on deterrence and collective defence it's clear that NATO stands united, strong, and ready for any challenge.

Thank you. I look forward to your questions.