On November 30th, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gave a press conference, prior to the Allied Foreign Ministers meeting.
⚠️ LIVE SOON 🕐 13:00 CEST ⚠️
— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) November 30, 2020
Ministers will discuss the NATO 2030 initiative and the continued adaptation of the Alliance, Russia’s military build-up, the rise of China, and NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.
Jens Stoltenberg outlined that NATO has supported the US and other allies throughout the years, and also pointed attention to the New START which is running out in February 2021, and it is in limbo.
He also said that the Black Sea region needs addressing.
NATO Foreign Ministers will meet over the next two days to address key issues. We will discuss the NATO 2030 project and the continued adaptation of our Alliance. As well as Russia’s military build-up. The rise of China.
And our mission in Afghanistan. We went into Afghanistan to support the United States after the 9/11 attacks. And to ensure that the country is never again a platform for international terrorists to attack our homelands. We have been there for almost two decades. And the country has come a long way. We now see an historic opportunity for peace. It is fragile, but it must be seized.
As part of the peace process, we have adjusted our presence. The United States has recently decided to further reduce its troop numbers. But NATO’s training mission continues, with over half of the forces from European Allies and partner nations. No one wants to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary. In the months ahead, we will continue to assess our presence based on conditions on the ground. We face a difficult dilemma.
Whether to leave, and risk that Afghanistan becomes once again a safe haven for international terrorists. Or stay, and risk a longer mission, with renewed violence.
Whatever path we choose, it is important that we do so together, in a coordinated and deliberate way.
Ministers will also address Russia’s military build-up around the Alliance.
Russia is modernising its nuclear arsenal and fielding new missiles. It is deploying more forces in our neighbourhood, from the High North to Syria and Libya.
We also see an increased Russian presence as a result of the crises in Belarus and Nagorno-Karabakh. So, Ministers will discuss what more we should do to respond to Russia’s growing military activity.
And to maintain the arms control regime. Including limitations on nuclear warheads, as the New START treaty is due to expire next February. We will also be joined by the Foreign Ministers of Georgia and Ukraine in a separate session. To address the security situation in the Black Sea region. And our support for these two valued partners.”
Regarding the Black Sea situation, Stoltenberg, first of all, said that the aim of NATO 2030 is to strengthen NATO as a political Alliance, and that also means working, strengthening, working with partners, including with a partner like Georgia.
“We are working closely with Georgia in the Black Sea, in the Black Sea Region. We provide political support, but also practical support to Georgia. We have stepped up our support by also now doing more in the maritime domain, including with the training of the Coast Guard. We have more sharing of air traffic radar data, and are working jointly to address hybrid threats, as well as conducting joint exercises in the Black Sea Region.”
This is what Stoltenberg specifically answered to a question about the Black Sea.
The question came from Robert Lupitu from Calea Europeana:
“… how does NATO intend, and how will NATO continue to strengthen its defence posture in the Black Sea, considering also the incoming Biden administration, and what’s your take on that for the Black Sea? And also, given the recent exercises that both Allies, Romania and the United States had in the Black Sea in the Mihail Kogălniceanu air base a few days ago?”
Stoltenberg answered the following:
“The Black Sea Region is of strategic importance for NATO and all NATO Allies, and we are working closely with our two highly-valued partners, Georgia and Ukraine, in the Black Sea Region, and, of course, also three NATO Allies, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania are littoral states. So, NATO has a significant presence in the Black Sea Region. We have a maritime presence; we recently had Allied ships exercising there. And we also have a deployment of a training brigade, a Romanian-led multinational brigade in Romania.
So, we have increased the NATO presence in the Black Sea Region and we are working closely with Ukraine and Georgia as partners, because we have seen that Russia has violated the territorial integrity and sovereignty of these two countries, with the illegal annexation of Crimea, and the presence of Russian forces in parts of what is actually recognised Georgian territory.
We are stepping up our political support, our practical support, and we see that Russia is increasing their military presence, not least in Crimea. And that’s reason why we need to further strengthen our presence in the region, and to also address this with our partners Georgia and Ukraine, as we’re going to do on Wednesday when we meet with the foreign ministers from these two partner countries.”
Essentially, Stoltenberg claims that NATO plans to further increase its presence in the Black Sea, through Ukraine and Georgia. Russia is still seen as the aggressor, and it is encroaching on both countries’ territories and they are “valued NATO partners” and need to be used in the pressure against Moscow.
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