This is the speech made Tuesday by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Bucharest.
Romania is a strong and highly valued NATO Ally. And I am reminded of that every day, because one of the great contributions you are making to our Alliance is that you have provided me with an excellent Deputy Secretary General.
Who reminds me of Romania’s commitment to NATO every day. And Mircea Geoana is really a man that I appreciate working with. And is a friend and he is also the co-founder of this Institute. So it’s, for many reasons, a pleasure to be here this morning.
NATO foreign ministers will meet in Bucharest as Russia’s war in Ukraine rages on Romania’s borders. Undermining the international rules-based order.
This is a critical time for our security. And we are sending an important message:
NATO is here. NATO is vigilant. And NATO is ready to defend every inch of Allied territory.
In response to Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, we are raising the readiness of our troops. And we have doubled the number of NATO battlegroups from four to eight.
Including one here in Romania, led by France.
Just last week, NATO Allies conducted an exercise to test air and missile defences in Romania. Involving Spanish, Turkish and US aircraft, as well as French jets flying from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. Demonstrating how NATO Allies operate together and are ready to defend every inch, but also the airspace above NATO Allies.
NATO Allies and NATO are not a party to the conflict in Ukraine. But we are providing unprecedented support to Ukraine. Because Ukraine is a nation that has the right to self- defence, a right which is enshrined in the UN Charter.
President Putin is failing in his brutal war of aggression. He is responding with more brutality.
We see wave after wave of deliberate missile attacks on cities and civilian infrastructure.
Striking homes, hospitals, and power grids. This is terrible for Ukraine.
But these are also tough times for us in the rest of Europe, and many others around the world, who face a painful cost of living crisis.
Indeed, we are all paying a price for Russia’s war against Ukraine. But the price we pay is in money. While the price Ukrainians pay is in blood.
And if we let Putin win, all of us will pay a much higher price, for many years to come.
Because then the lesson learned by President Putin and other authoritarian leaders is that they can achieve their goals by using brute force. So they will be emboldened to use even more force once again. That will make our world more dangerous. And all of us more vulnerable.
Therefore, it is in our own long-term security interest to support Ukraine.
There can be no lasting peace if the aggressor wins. There can be no lasting peace if oppression and autocracy prevail over freedom and democracy.
We know that most wars end at the negotiating table.
But what happens at the negotiating table is inextricably linked to what happens on the battlefield. Therefore, to create the conditions for lasting peace, which ensures that Ukraine prevails as an independent sovereign state, we must continue to provide military support to Ukraine.
So our message from Bucharest is that NATO will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We will not back down.
Russia’s war on Ukraine has not made us forget other partners facing Russian pressure, intimidation and aggression. It has actually made our partnerships even more important.
That is why NATO foreign ministers will meet with their Ukrainian counterpart, as well as with Georgia, Moldova, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. To address the challenges we face.
And to enhance our support.
For their resilience, political independence, and the modernisation of their armed forces.
So that they can better defend themselves. If they are safer, we will be more secure.
NATO foreign ministers will also address the challenges posed by China. China is stepping up military modernisation. Increasing its presence from the Arctic to the Western Balkans, From space to cyber space.
The war in Ukraine demonstrated our dangerous dependency on Russian gas.
This should also lead us to assess our dependencies on other authoritarian states. Not least China. We are dependent on China for certain key components and materials, including rare earth minerals. As well as for many of our supply chains.
We will continue to trade and engage economically with China. But we have to aware of our dependencies, reduce our vulnerabilities and manage the risks.
The foreign ministers from Finland and Sweden will join us for all the discussions in Bucharest. Their membership of NATO is a game-changer for the European security architecture. It will make them safer, our Alliance stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure.
It demonstrates once again that NATO is the bedrock of Euro-Atlantic security.
Europe and North America will continue to stand together to defend our values, and our freedom.