NATO Secretary General visits Washington D.C.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is visiting Washington D.C. to discuss the implications of Russia’s war in Ukraine and preparations for the NATO Summit in Madrid with senior U.S. officials.

At the White House, the Secretary General met President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday, 2 June 2022. The Secretary General thanked the United States for its great leadership, both in support of Ukraine and support of the transatlantic Alliance.

“President Putin wanted less NATO and therefore he invaded Ukraine, but he is getting more NATO, with more NATO presence in the eastern part of the Alliance and also with more members,” he said.

The two leaders discussed the united response to Russia’s war against Ukraine, further strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defence, and preparations for the upcoming Madrid Summit of Allied leaders.

Meeting Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, 1 June 2022, the Secretary General thanked the United States for its indispensable role in NATO’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They also discussed NATO’s Open Door policy. The Secretary General described the decisions by Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership as historic. He stressed that the security concerns of all Allies have to be addressed, and said “I am confident that we will find a united way forward.” To this end, he said he was in close contact with President Erdogan of Turkey, and the leaders of Finland and Sweden, and announced he would convene senior officials from all three countries in Brussels in the coming days.

“We must continue to invest in our defense and to invest in NATO because only North America and Europe, working together in a strong NATO, can keep our 1 billion people safe in a more dangerous world,” stressed Jens Stoltenberg.

The Secretary General also met US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on June 2, to address support for Ukraine, NATO’s work to strengthen deterrence and defence for a more dangerous security environment, and progress on burden-sharing and defence spending across the Alliance.

Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during the Secretary General’s visit to the United. Credit: NATO

Secretary Blinken: NATO towards a new strategic concept

“Today’s meeting was an opportunity for us to touch base on the upcoming NATO summit, which will take place in Madrid, as you know, in just a few weeks’ time,” said US Secretary Antony Blinken at a joint press conference.  “There the Alliance will adopt a new strategic concept, the first one since 2010, to make sure that we’re ready to meet the challenges of today and the challenges that we anticipate for tomorrow. That includes everything from malicious activity occurring in cyberspace, the People’s Republic of China’s rapid militarization, its no-limits friendship with Russia, and efforts to weaken the rules-based international order that is the foundation for peace and security around the world; and, of course, the security implications of climate change, which are profound.”

US Secretary emphasized the strengthening relationships between the US and the European Union and with partners in the Indo-Pacific.

“We will bolster NATO’s budget. And we will renew our Alliance’s defense and deterrence capabilities,” stressed Antony Blinken.

“Today, we also discussed the important decisions we will take at the NATO summit in Madrid later this month,” said Jens Stoltenberg. “We will agree NATO’s next Strategic Concept, strengthen our deterrence and defense, and prepare for an age of increased strategic competition with authoritarian powers like Russia and China. This includes working even more closely with our partners in the Asia-Pacific and other likeminded partners around the world.”

Putin’s senseless war

“Of course, the strategic concept will reflect what we are now dealing with, and that is a new security landscape in Europe and President Putin’s decision to launch a senseless war of aggression on Ukraine, now in its fourth month,” underlined US Secretary.

“The people of Ukraine continue to fight with extraordinary courage and skill and with military, humanitarian, and financial support from the United States and countries around the world, including virtually all of the members of NATO. Just this morning President Biden announced a significant new security assistance package to arm Ukraine with additional capabilities in advanced weaponry, precisely what they need to defend themselves against the ongoing Russian aggression. That includes more advanced rocket systems so that they can strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine from longer distances.  This is a continuation of a strategy that began even before Russia’s invasion.  We moved quickly to send Ukraine significant amounts of weapons and ammunition so that they can repel Russia’s aggression and, in turn, can be in the strongest possible position at any negotiating table that may emerge.”

“The United States is playing an indispensible role in our response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now, let me commend the United States for your very significant support to Ukraine, which is making a difference on the battlefield every day,” said NATO Secretary General.

“I also welcome the latest package of military assistance announced by President Biden this morning. This is a demonstration of real U.S. leadership.  The strong support provided by NATO and Allies helps ensure that President Putin’s brutal aggression is not rewarded, and that Ukraine prevails.”

Antony Blinken underlined that all NATO Allies remain engaged, aligned, and committed to ensuring that Ukraine can protect its sovereignty, its democracy, and its independence. By imposing unprecedented sanctions, export controls, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Government and its enablers.

“Together we responded to the humanitarian crisis provoked by Russia’s war of aggression. More than 6 million Ukrainians forced to leave their homeland, many others displaced within Ukraine. Countries across Europe and beyond, including the United States, have welcomed Ukrainians fleeing the violence.  And countries worldwide are helping provide essential services to communities close to Ukraine that have taken on the most refugees,” said Secretary Blinken.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
Credit: NATO

A united NATO

“President Putin hoped that his war on Ukraine would divide NATO. Instead, he’s united NATO in support of Ukraine and in defense of its own members.  He’s brought countries around the world together to support the fundamental principles of sovereignty and independence.  They see what’s happening in Ukraine as a direct result – excuse me, a direct assault on the foundation of their own peace and security.  That is why we will continue to stand with a democratic, independent, sovereign Ukraine until this terrible war is over, and for that matter, long after,” said US Secretary.

“NATO will be prepared to face challenges like these with secure cyber defenses, cutting-edge technology, and enhanced partnerships, as I said, with countries around the world,” Blinken continued. “We’ll make sure that we defend every inch of NATO territory. The Allies have reinforced our collective defense posture.  Since the war began, we’ve deployed more than 20,000 additional troops to NATO’s eastern flank.”

“Let me thank the United States for increasing your military presence across Europe, with over 100,000 troops backed by significant air and naval power.  European allies and Canada are also stepping up with more troops, high readiness, and increased defense spending,” added Jens Stoltenberg. “For the seventh consecutive year, defense spending has increased, and more and more Allies are meeting our guideline of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense.”

Finland and Sweden

US Secretary and NATO General Secretary welcomed the decision of Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership.

“As President Biden has said, this decision was a victory for democracy.  Finland and Sweden are seeking to join NATO not because their leaders forced it but because their citizens demanded it,” said Antony Blinken. “Anyone who wonders at the difference between a democracy and an authoritarian state like Russia need only look at Russia, Finland, and Sweden. One would lie to its people to wage a war, two would listen to their people to prevent war.”

“President Putin wanted less NATO. He is getting more NATO, more troops, and more NATO members,” emphasized Jens Stoltenberg.

“The decisions by Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership are historic, and they will strengthen our Alliance. We have to address the security concerns of all Allies, and I’m confident that we will find the united way forward,” he added.

“The United States strongly supports Finland and Sweden’s applications. Both countries are more than qualified to become full members of the Alliance as soon as possible,” said Secretary of State. “By joining NATO, they will strengthen NATO. We look forward to quickly bringing them into the strongest defensive Alliance in history.”

NATO has grown stronger and more united, said Lloyd J. Austin III

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III at the Pentagon on Thursday, 2 June 2022.

Mr. Stoltenberg thanked Secretary Austin for his commitment and leadership in NATO as the Alliance continues to respond to Russia’s war against Ukraine. They addressed the need to continue supporting Ukraine for the longer-term, NATO’s work to reset deterrence and defence for a more dangerous security environment, and other preparations for the upcoming Madrid Summit.

“You know — but as I think about this, I’ve never seen NATO more energized, more united,” said Secretary Austin. “And I want to thank you for taking the time to come here as we look ahead to both the defense ministerial that’s coming up, and most important, the NATO Summit that will follow later this month. I especially want to thank you for your firm and principled leadership of this indispensable Alliance during this historic time.”

“In the face of Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, NATO has grown stronger and more united, and we’ve come to reinforce our Allies and we’ll continue to do that, you know, going forward,” said U.S. Secretary of Defense. “We couldn’t have done what’s been done, Jens, quite frankly, without your strong leadership. And that’s why we got on bended knee and asked you to stay a year longer, and we’re grateful for you doing that.”

“You know, Putin wanted to weaken the rules-based international order, but instead, he galvanized the world by his actions,” continued Secretary Austin.

“I know that there’s been a lot of discussion about defense spending within NATO recently, so let me just say that spending two percent of GDP is a floor, and not a ceiling, in my view. And it’s also important to increase the amount of common funding so that our net — NATO has the resources that it needs to accomplish the task our leaders have assigned us. And we fully support your efforts and applaud your efforts to ensure that NATO has the resources that it needs,” concluded US Secretary of Defense.

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