NATO ministers to discuss Russia, Afghanistan, China and the future of the Alliance
NATO Secretary General, Press Conference at Defence Ministers Meeting, 17 FEB 2021
Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg invited US President-elect Joe Biden to NATO Summit
Russia’s military build-up, the growing threat of an expansionist China, the situation in Afghanistan and the project «NATO 2030» will be the main topics of the meeting of NATO foreign ministers, which will take place on 1-2 December. Outlining the agenda for the talks ahead of the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted that Russia is building up its military power near the borders of the North Atlantic Alliance: «Russia is modernizing its nuclear arsenal and deploying new missiles. It is deploying more forces in neighboring regions, from the High North to Syria and Libya. We also see an increase in the Russian presence as a result of the crises in Belarus and Nagorno-Karabakh».Allies of the Alliance are also concerned about arms control issues and the fact that the US-Russian START-3 treaty will expire in February 2021..
Stoltenberg also announced his participation in the meeting as part of a separate meeting of the foreign ministers of Georgia and Ukraine to discuss security problems in the Black Sea region. Strengthening Russia’s military presence in the Black Sea basin, in particular in Crimea, requires the alliance to increase its presence in this region. NATO is already taking the necessary steps, Stoltenberg noted: «The Black Sea region is strategically important for NATO and all allies of the alliance. We work closely with our valuable partners – Georgia and Ukraine, and three allies – Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania – the coastal countries of the region. NATO has a significant presence in the Black Sea region […], and we continue to cooperate with our partners – Ukraine and Georgia, since in the past we have witnessed violations by Russia of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of these countries», – noted the NATO Secretary General.
«We see Russia asserting itself in more and more places, – noted US Permanent Representative to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison in a comment to the Russian Service «Voices of America» during a press briefing. – In Belarus, Russia supports the election results, which were clearly not free and fair, posing a threat to people who peacefully protest against these elections, and supporting a person who calls himself elected, but not actually elected.».
The US Permanent Representative to NATO also noted that the Alliance will consider the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria and Libya and other countries where Russia’s activities are of concern to the Allies, and will discuss options for response.
NATO foreign ministers will also discuss the situation in Afghanistan – amid the Trump administration’s decision to cut the number of American troops in half. If earlier the presence in the country was more than 100 thousand military of the Alliance, today this number is approximately 11 thousand – half of which are American military personnel.
«Nobody wants to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary. NATO faces a difficult dilemma: to leave, which would create the risk of re-turning Afghanistan into a safe haven for international terrorists, or to stay, which, in turn, would create the risk of an even longer mission and renewed violence. Whichever path we choose, it is important that we act together, consistently and deliberately», – said Jens Stoltenberg during a press briefing.
NATO Foreign Ministers will also discuss the threats posed by an expansionist China.
Stoltenberg said he had invited US President-elect Joe Biden to the NATO summit in early 2021. «I know Joe Biden as a dedicated supporter of cooperation, links between North America, Europe and NATO., – he noted during a press briefing. – I invited Joe Biden […] for a NATO summit in Brussels early next year, but no specific date has been set yet».