Press conference

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Prime Minister of Latvia, Krišjānis Kariņš, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, the Minister of Defence of Canada, Anita Anand and the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez

  • 08 Mar. 2022 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 11 Mar. 2022 12:15

(As delivered)

Press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Prime Minister of Latvia, Krišjānis Kariņš, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, the Minister of Defence of Canada, Anita Anand and the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez

Prime Minister Kariņš, 
Prime Minister Trudeau,
Prime Minister Sánchez.
Dear Krišjānis, dear Justin, dear Pedro.

It is great to be together with all of you here today.
This demonstrates really NATO solidarity.

That we stand together, facing a critical moment for our security caused by the brutal invasion of Russia on a peaceful country in Europe – Ukraine.

President Putin’s war on Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe.
It has shaken the international order.
And it continues to take a devastating toll on the Ukrainian people.

But Putin seriously underestimated Ukraine.
And he seriously underestimated the strength and unity of NATO,
and of our friends and partners around the world.

We have imposed unprecedented costs on Russia.
We have stepped up our support for Ukraine, helping to uphold its right to self-defence.
And we have implemented historic reinforcements of NATO’s collective defence.

With thousands more troops reinforcing the eastern part of our Alliance.
Including here in Latvia.

I strongly welcome that Allies including Canada, Spain, and the United States are deploying hundreds more troops to our multinational presence here at the Adazi base in Latvia.

Justin, Pedro, thank you for your personal leadership and your commitment to our collective security.

Canada has led NATO’s battlegroup in Latvia for years, with skill and dedication.
A powerful demonstration of your commitment to transatlantic security.

Spain is leading by example, by deploying additional troops, ships and jets to strengthen our defensive posture in Europe.

It was really an honour to meet your forces here today.
From both sides of the Atlantic.
They represent the spirit of all our Allies:
All for one, and one for all.

NATO is a defensive Alliance.
We do not seek conflict with Russia.
Our ultimate responsibility is to keep our one billion citizens safe.
This means we must do everything possible to prevent the conflict from spreading beyond Ukraine. 

And our presence here in Latvia sends an unmistakable message of unity and resolve.
Our commitment to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty is absolute.
And we will do whatever it takes to protect and defend all Allies.

Krišjānis, Justin and Pedro,
At this dangerous moment for our security, we stand united for our people and our values.
Europe and North America together, in NATO.

Thank you.

Moderator: For questions, please introduce yourself before you ask the question to whom you would like to address the question. We have time for a couple of questions.

CBC News: Prime Minister Trudeau, allies have been shipping to Ukraine anti-aircraft weapons and anti-tank weapons, Canada has sent anti-tank weapons. Both of those capabilities are in short supply in the Canadian military. The Canadian Army does not have a dedicated Surface to Air Defense System. Will your Government commit to an urgent procurement to cover those capability gaps? And will your Government commit to meeting NATO's benchmark standard of 2% of GDP in defense spending?

Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Justin Trudeau: First of all, we understand the urgency that is presented right now in the world, with Ukrainian standing strong against this illegal Russian invasion. And that is why we have sent aid, we have sent weapons and we will continue to send support to Ukrainians as they stand to defend not just their country, but defend democracy, defend the values that underpin democracy, and in fact, defend us all.

Those weapons are much more useful right now and in the coming weeks in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers fighting for their lives, then they would be in Canadian hands. But of course we need to make sure we replace those weapons rapidly and that we continue to invest in the equipment that leads our armed forces to be able to continue to contribute, not just in places like here in Latvia, but everywhere around the world where we are called on to do. I had an excellent conversation with Secretary General Stoltenberg earlier this afternoon in which I talked about Indeed, our approach to continuing to invest in our military and making sure that Canada is always there to stand up.

Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Justin Trudeau: We will always look for all opportunities to invest more in our support to NATO. We have to defend the democracy, we have to be everywhere where democracy needs to be defended, but we need to provide urgent help to Ukraine currently in the form of weapons. It is important not only for defending Ukraine, but also for defending democracy around the world.
Moderator: So we have time for another question.

Radio Canada (translated from French): You mentioned presence in Latvia, which will be strengthened, expanded; will you increase our presence there as well?

Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Justin Trudeau:  Well, we are investing in our military presence around the world, and now I'll pass the floor over to our Defence Minister.

Defence Minister of Canada, Anita Anand (translated from French): Thank you, Prime Minister. Of course, defence is very important. Sovereignty is very important. Six hundred million dollar has been signed to ensure the security of the Arctic, to protect the Arctic, and we have also reached out to our partners in the United States to agree on joint defence of our continent, and how to defend our world together. NORAD modernization is the program, which is absolutely crucial for Canada. In a  short run we will take a very firm stance on the matter and it is one of the top priorities for the Canadian government.

Moderator: So, we still have time for a couple of questions. Do we have any Spanish media who would like to ask a question? Please go ahead.

Spanish journalist: So far the response through sanctions has not stopped Putin, what should be the path from now on? How far can NATO go? And how far can the European Union go as well? Do you consider the possibility of stopping buying oil and gas from Russia, just like the US has proposed, and do you think that (inaudible) gas could be the solution to supply all your European countries? And Prime Minister Sanchez, as far as Spain goes, what steps are you willing to take to respond to the economic impact of the war in our country? Is it possible to use the loans of the next generation funds? And is it possible to lower fuel taxes? And we would be very grateful if we could have an answer in Spanish as well. Thank you.

Prime Minister of Spain, Mr. Pedro Sánchez: Well, thank you. Thank you, Jackie, for your questions. First of all, I think it's crucial to be united. This is what we are showing today with the Prime Minister of Latvia, Prime Minister of Canada, Secretary General of NATO and Spain and all the allies in NATO and the European Union. That is why I think it's important not to, you know, to advance different measures that we are going to debate in the council in the coming days in Paris. But of course, economic sanctions is one of the most powerful means, instruments that we have, in order to stop this terrible and unjustified war that Putin is making against a free country, such as Ukraine.

Secondly, of course I think it's  very important to act regarding the economic impact in Spain and of course, in the world economy, and especially in the European economy. I think it is important to act in different dimensions. First of all the multilateral dimensions and here we have countries that belong to the G7, but of course at the European level. I think it's important the communication that the commission has released today regarding the Energy Policy, which is one of the major tools for the economic growth and of course it is already impacting this crisis on the energy prices. And, of course, I think it's important also to have this unity among parties in Spain and of course, this unity that we have shown with the trade unions and enterprises. First with the pandemic and the response, the economic response to this pandemic, the COVID 19 pandemic and of course, nowadays with this terrible and unjustified war, led by Putin. So, this is the question or the answer in English and in Spanish I would say… (English translation unavaible).

Moderator: We still have time for one more question. No, we have to give the opportunity to other Latvian journalist?

Latvian journalist: My question to Mr. Sanchez. So you already mentioned that you decided to send more troops to Latvia, could you please be a little bit specific about when they could arrive? Thank you so much.

Prime Minister of Spain, Mr. Pedro Sánchez: Thank you very much. Actually, we've been committed with Latvia for long under the command of the Canadian Army, and we are going to deploy, as I said before, 150 new soldiers here in this base. And it's going to be very, very quick, very fast, since the NATO Secretary General of course, the commander, asked us to deploy as fast as we can these military units.

Moderator: Thank you. And we still have one more question. We can still take one more question, please. The floor is yours.

Journalist: Secretary General, what would NATO do if Vladimir Putin encroached on even one centimeter of NATO territory and Mr. Trudeau, would you be willing to go to war?

NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg: We are here to deter any attack on any NATO allied country and deterrence has helped to preserve peace for more than 70 years. Now we are stepping up to send an even stronger message to President Putin; that an attack on one ally will trigger the response from the whole Alliance. So we are here to protect every inch of allied territory of Latvia and all other NATO countries. And the purpose of that deterrence is not to provoke a war, but to prevent war and to preserve peace.

When we see the aggressive actions of President Putin against Ukraine, it has led to a big reinforcement of our presence in Latvia and also in other parts of the Eastern flank of our alliance. And I would like to commend Canada, Spain, and also to Latvia as a host nation for really demonstrating unity, demonstrating commitment to our collective defence. As long as we stand together, North America and Europe in NATO, we are all safe because we are by far the strongest alliance in history. And the unity is much stronger than President Putin expected. He wants less NATO, he's getting more NATO. He wanted to divide us, he is getting a more united Alliance. We are here to preserve peace, prevent war, and that's the reason why we are increasing our defensive deterrence presence in Latvia and in the rest of the Eastern part of the Alliance.

Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Justin Trudeau: Vladimir Putin made a fundamental miscalculation. He thought Ukraine was weak, and he thought NATO was divided. He has been shown how wrong he is. Ukrainians are strong and courageous and standing up to defend their land and NATO has never been more united and determined than we are now. I know I can speak for all NATO members when I say; we will all abide by Article Five.

Answer translated from French: I just said that Putin has made a huge mistake. Thinking that NATO is divided, and that Ukraine is weak. But Ukraine is very strong, brave and courageous fighting back against Russia. NATO is more united than ever and we are demonstrating our unity every day and I think I'm speaking on behalf of all members of the Alliance; we're fully committed to Article Five.

Moderator: Thank you all. This concludes our press conference.