The North Atlantic Alliance is here, it is vigilant and ready to defend every inch of Allied territory, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday in an intervention at the Aspen – GMF Bucharest Forum, which takes place in Bucharest.
The senior official is in Romania to chair the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting, which takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Palace of Parliament.
The ministers of Foreign Affairs from NATO countries are meeting in Bucharest, while Russia’s war against Ukraine is taking place at the border with Romania and undermines the rules-based international order. It is a critical moment for our security and we are sending an important message: NATO is here, NATO is vigilant and is ready to defend every inch of Allied territory, Stoltenberg said.
He spoke about the increase of the military presence after the beginning of the war in Ukraine, respectively the doubling of the Allied fighting groups from two to four, one of them being in Romania.
“NATO and the Allies are not part of the conflict in Ukraine, but in a manner without precedent, we provide support to Ukraine, because Ukraine is a nation that has the right to defend itself, as enshrined in the UN Charter”, Jens Stoltenberg added.
According to the NATO Secretary General, “President Putin’s war of aggression is an echelon.”
And he responds with several brutal acts – we see waves of missile attacks launched intentionally on civilians and civilian infrastructure, which hit homes, hospitals and electricity networks, Stoltenberg assessed.
He added that there are complicated moments for everyone, but for Ukraine it is “terrible” what is happening.
“But there are complicated moments for us in Europe too and for other countries in the world (…) It is true, we all pay the price for Russia’s war against Ukraine, but our price is in money, while the Ukrainians pay with blood. If we let Putin win, we will all pay a much higher price in the years to come, because Mr. Putin and other authoritarian leaders will learn then that they can achieve their goals using brute force. So they will be encouraged to use even more force in other times. This will make our world more dangerous and make us all more vulnerable”, the NATO official stressed.
“It is in our long-term security interest to support Ukraine”, Stoltenberg reiterated.
Romania has played and is playing an important role in the efforts of the North Atlantic Alliance to support Ukraine
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that Romania has played and is playing an important role in the efforts of the North Atlantic Alliance to support Ukraine.
Romania has played and is playing an important role in our efforts to support Ukraine, having such a long land border with this country. You have been instrumental in providing support to Ukraine, but you have also helped to facilitate the support of other allied and partner countries to Ukraine. I am absolutely certain that when Foreign ministers meet today and tomorrow, the message will be that we need to sustain and step up our support, not least when it comes to France’s air defense systems, to help Ukraine defend itself against all the air attacks they are now facing, said the NATO Secretary General at the Aspen – GMF Bucharest Forum.
He appreciated the fact that Romania hosts many Ukrainian refugees, “a demonstration of Romania’s generous support to Ukraine and Ukrainians”.
The NATO official stated that the North Atlantic Alliance was not taken by surprise when the Russian invasion of Ukraine happened, because there was information in this regard.
“Actually, we have been preparing and have been ready to face situations like this since we started the big adaptation of NATO in 2014. The war didn’t start in February this year, the war started in the spring of 2014 and since then NATO has implemented the biggest reinforcement, the biggest adaptation of our alliance since the end of the Cold War, with more defence spending, including from Romania in 2 percent and many other allies. We had intelligence many months before, in the fall of 2021, last year that Russia was planning to attack, a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine. We shared that intelligence with all our allies and actually with the public. So, when they invaded, that was no surprise, meaning that in the lead-up to the invasion we had already further increased our presence. I myself visited the MK base in Romania, I think it was early February, before the invasion, then we saw US troops, NATO troops and also French troops increasing their presence here. Then, on the same morning when the invasion took place, we activated our defence plans and decided to further increase our presence”, Stoltenberg said.
“We have acted over a long period of time, we stepped up in the weeks ahead of the invasion, and then after the invasion many allies, but not least France, leading the Battle Group, have further increased their presence in the region. This is backed by significant naval power in the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean and also with a lot of Air power and we can quickly reinforce even more if needed”, Stoltenberg said, who pointed out that the Black has great strategic importance for the North Atlantic Alliance.
NATO expansion is the result of democratic decisions, it is not against Russia
The expansion of NATO is the result of democratic decisions and is not a gesture against Russia, declared, on Tuesday, the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, in an intervention at the Aspen – GMF Bucharest Forum, which takes place in Bucharest.
NATO expansion (…) occurs when free and independent nations believe they are safer with others. And the Russian war suggested that if a state becomes a NATO ally, this is a challenge, Stoltenberg pointed out.
He gave, in this sense, the example of his country.
“I come from Norway, a country that has a border with Russia. At the beginning of NATO, Norway was the only allied country that had a border with Russia. Before that, in 1949, Russia had conveyed that it was simply unacceptable for Norway to become a NATO member, that it would have been a provocation. It was not a challenge, it was about the free and democratic will of the Norwegians to be part of NATO. And I am glad that the founding members from Washington, Paris, London and others agreed”, Stoltenberg recalled.
Furthermore, the Secretary General of NATO said that “the same thing happened when Lithuania and Latvia became members, when Romania became a NATO member”.
“NATO did not force Romania to become part of the Alliance. Romania wanted this, in the context of free and independent elections. It had a democratically elected government that wanted to be part of NATO. I respect Romania’s will to be part of NATO, and president Putin cannot deny sovereign nations the right to make their own sovereign decisions. They are not a threat to Russia, but rather he does not understand what free and independent nations can do and I think he is afraid of democracy and freedom. This is his great challenge and the reason why he invaded Ukraine,” Stoltenberg pointed out.
“Ukraine was never a threat to Russia, and Russia was a threat to Ukraine. (Russia – n.r.) annexed Crimea in 2014 and used their forces to control the eastern part of Donbas, which is within the borders of Ukraine”, Jens Stoltenberg said.
Compiled from Agerpres