THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, and welcome to this Washington Foreign Press Center briefing. My name is Bill Martin, and I will be the moderator. And now it’s my privilege to introduce our distinguished briefer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Douglas Jones. Deputy Assistant Secretary Jones will be discussing key outcomes from the Madrid Summit and next steps on Ukraine and Russia.
This briefing is on the record; it is being livestreamed. After we hear from Deputy Assistant Secretary Jones, we will have a question-and-answer session. The FPC will post the transcript of this briefing and the video afterwardson our website at fpc.state.gov. And with that, I would like to turn to the program over to Deputy Assistant Secretary Jones. DAS Jones.
MR JONES: Great. Thank you very much. Thanks to all of you for joining today.
I wanted to take the opportunity to speak to you today primarily about the NATO summit held last week because it was, in our view, a truly historic summit. It was consequential; it was transformative. And we saw from this summit a NATO Alliance that is more united and stronger than it has been in decades, an alliance that was responding to the changes in the European security environment brought on by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, an alliance that’s continuing to adapt and strengthen to meet that threat but also all emerging and modern threats. So we’ve seen NATO also more relevant than ever before.
I’ll go over briefly in my opening some of the key outcomes from the summit, and then I’m happy to talk about – take any questions that you may have. I think there are really six key outcomes that we saw from the summit: the new Strategic Concept that the Allies agreed, which unequivocally condemned Russia’s war on Ukraine and it put blame for that directly where it belongs, on the Kremlin; on strengthening deterrence and defense of the Alliance; of course, the historic invitation to Finland and Sweden to join NATO; we saw greater resourcing from each nation, each Ally, to provide for the common defense; steps NATO took to support Ukraine and that individual Allies took; and finally, the expanding and improving of global partnerships.
The Strategic Concept – as you know, this was the first since 2010. A lot has changed since then. The key difference that the Strategic Concept highlights is that now, – in this current environment, Europe is not at peace. There’s one cause for that; it’s Russian aggression, and the Concept was crystal-clear on that. The last Concept also did not mention the People’s Republic of China, and now, however, Allies in this Strategic Concept identified Beijing’s coercive policies, its attempts to undermine the rules-based international order, as a major factor in transatlantic security. And the Strategic Concept also outlined NATO’s approach to adapting to modern and emerging threats – to cyber, space, hybrid – and the growing security implications of climate change.
I talked about strengthening deterrence and defense as another major outcome. NATO did significantly strengthen deterrence and defense. Allies have placed now 40,000 troops under Allied command and established new battle groups in the east. And at the summit, NATO decided to make those battle groups scalable to brigade size when and where they’ll be required to do so. And to make that credible, NATO made decisions to increase its readiness to make forces more available, focused on pre-positioning, so that NATO can scale up rapidly when necessary. And President Biden and Secretary Austin made a series of announcements on U.S. contributions to a stronger force posture for NATO in the east, including the V Corps headquarters in Poland, a long-term persistent presence of an additional brigade combat team, and additional air and naval assets deployed to Europe.
Finland and Sweden I mentioned. This was a historic invitation for these two soon-to-be allies to join NATO. These are countries that are longstanding NATO partners but until now had decided not to apply for NATO membership. But they share NATO’s values, and they are strong, militarily capable countries that will be strong contributors to NATO. And so the United States supports their accession to NATO, and we’re moving quickly as we can to finalize our processes for their ratification.
A word on resources and common funding. We speak often about defense spending and burden sharing, and we continue to see Allies step up and share more and more of the defense burden for the common defense. A number of Allies, an increasing number, are reaching the 2 percent guidelines that NATO has established. We now have nine Allies that spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense – that’s up from three in 2014 – and two-thirds of the Allies are expected to meet that 2 percent goal by 2024.
And also, Allies made decisions on increasing the common budget of NATO, both the civil and military, and this will allow the Alliance to meet all of the commitments that it’s laid out for itself in the Strategic Concept.
Ukraine specifically, of course, was the theme running throughout the whole summit. NATO did make some specific decisions as an Alliance on an enhanced capabilities package for Ukraine, which is really focused on nonlethal military assistance that NATO can provide as well as helping Ukraine with cyber defenses and defense reforms. And individual Allies made announcements in their national capacities about assistance they’ll be giving Ukraine, increased military assistance, to help Ukraine defend itself.
And finally, I mentioned expanding and improving global partnerships. Also at the summit– NATO’s four Asia-Pacific partners – Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and Australia – their heads of state participated in the summit. This was a historic first to participate at that level. And that’s a recognition of the increased linkages between security in the Indo-Pacific and in the transatlantic space and how we can work together to enhance each other’s security.
I’m happy to leave it at that and answer any questions you may have.
MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you, Deputy Assistant Secretary Jones, for those introductory remarks. Now I’d like to open this program up for questions. I’ll take a few questions first from those here in the briefing room and then a few questions from those on Zoom. Please raise your hand, or your virtual hand if you are on Zoom, if you would like to ask a question. If I call on you, please give your name and our outlet. And I think I will start on the fourth row back here. Please, yes.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Thanks for doing this. My name is Can Merey. I’m with the German Press Agency here in D.C. As you know, there is a discussion in Germany and other European countries what kind of weapons we should deliver to Ukraine. I wanted to ask is it a red line for the United States to deliver Western main battle tanks to Ukraine?
MR JONES: So I don’t, honestly, want to get into specific discussions about specific weapons systems. I will say that at this summit what was clear was a clear statement from Allies that they will continue to support Ukraine in defending itself for as long as it takes. This was a statement from all Allies but also from the President that we will support Ukraine to ensure that it can remain a sovereign, independent nation, and that Russia will not prevail in its aggression against Ukraine, and this will not result in a victory for Russia.
On the specific issues of weapons systems, that’s a discussion that is ongoing with individual Allies and the Ukrainians.
MODERATOR: Thanks, Can. Okay. Now I’d like to call on the first row. Dmitry, please state your name and title.
QUESTION: Ukraine – oh, thank you. Dmitry Anopchenko, Ukrainian reporter working in Washington. Thank you very much, Foreign Press Center, for organizing this. Thank you, sir. It’s priceless to get information from the first hands. And I’d like to ask you about the next steps on Ukraine with Russia. Was it a – it was a topic? You know there are a lot of sanctions against Russia. It hurts Russian economy, but it doesn’t stops Russia from moving forward, from bombing Ukrainian cities. There are a lot of arms provided to Ukraine, and I spoke to Ukrainian military; they told me it’s priceless. But at the same time, the battlefield itself is still the main challenge.
So under these circumstances, how do you personally see the next steps? What might be done? Do you see any changes in the policy which might be predicted? Thank you.
MR JONES: So as I mentioned earlier, one of the main outcomes was this commitment to support Ukraine as long as it takes. And so I think when you ask about what’s next, you’re going to continue to see this strong support from the United States and also individual Allies for Ukraine, because Ukraine has shown its defense of its country against this Russian aggression has been heroic, and we will support them and give them the weapons necessary.
Sanctions – sanctions are having an impact. We’ve seen Russia default on their foreign loans. We’ve seen their inability to replace a lot of the weapon systems that they’re losing in Ukraine as a result of export controls. We’ve seen other impacts on their economy. And so we will continue to put the economic pressure on Russia and raise the cost to Russia for this going forward, not only to continue the sanctions but continue to broaden them, and also to enhance their implementation to make sure that enforcement is stronger. And we’ll continue that as long – as the leaders said, continue this as long as it takes.
MODERATOR: All right. I think in the next row, second seat. Pease, go ahead. Yes.
QUESTION: Hello. I am Dildar from Anadolu Agency of Turkey. And as you may know that President Erdogan and President Biden has met in the Madrid summit, and they have some commitments about two F-16 sales, and President Biden made some statements on them. What can we expect on the next steps on the sale? Thank you.
MR JONES: So the F-16 issue has been out there for a while, and I think the administration has stated its position on this, which is that the administration supports Turkey modernizing its F-16 fleet, and so supports this sale. But the President has also been clear that he needs the support of Congress to do this as well. So the leaders have spoken about this, but the position of the administration remains what it was before – before the summit in support of this sale, and expressed a willingness to work with Congress also since their voice is important in this issue as well.
MODERATOR: Yeah, I think I’d like to take some questions now from the Zoom, those participants online. And I’d like to start with Oscar Gorzynski, if you could – if he could be unmuted and he could pose his question, and give your outlet, please.
QUESTION: Hi, thank you. I hope you can hear me well.
MODERATOR: Yes, we can hear you.
QUESTION: I’m Oscar Gorzynski from the Polish Press Agency. So I have two questions, if I might. So in the runup to the summit, senior military leaders, including General Milley and General Walters, have voiced support for permanent bases in – permanent military bases in Poland and Romania. And this has not been announced by the President. Any idea why?
And second, at the summit President Biden announced enhancing rotational deployments in Baltic countries. What – it hasn’t been specified what that means in practice, so can you expand on that?
MR JONES: Sure, I can make a couple comments on that. The Pentagon announced a number of force posture enhancements from the United States, to include an additional combat brigade in Poland on a persistent rotational basis, as well as a brigade headquarters in Romania. The purpose of these deployments are not only to strengthen countries they are based in the eastern flank, but they are designed to provide the ability to rotate forces throughout the eastern flank, so they will not remain only in those countries, but they will provide the ability to rotate throughout the eastern flank, but also the Baltics. So you will see enhanced rotational deployments of the United States throughout the Baltic States and these deployments that I mentioned give us the capability to do that.
Regarding permanent basing, part of the announcement was also an announcement of the permanent basing of the V Corps Headquarters in Poland as its forward-deployed corps headquarters. And that will be permanently stationed – permanently stationed there.
MODERATOR: Okay. All right, I think – I’m not seeing any questions here on the line. I’d like to go back to the room, and I’ll start with Alex [Raufoglu] Aliyev.
QUESTION: Thank you so much, Bill. Assistant Secretary Jones, thank you so much for being here. Let me start with the Russia threat that you are talking about, how (inaudible) six significant results of announcing Russia as the most significant threat to NATO. If you sit in Azerbaijan, Georgia – I represent Azerbaijan’s Turan News Agency – you probably scratch your head and think about increasing Russia threat to defensive alliance; what am I going to do it when Russia threat hits me? How could you describe that threat to non-Ally members, and what can you do about it if Russia continues its threat to its immediate – against its immediate neighbors?
And my second question, since we have you here: Can I get your reaction to latest news on Turkey allowing – NATO member Turkey, let me say – allowing a Russian ship to pass through its port today despite the fact that Ukraine has made claim that they have provided significant details proving that it had stolen Ukrainian grain? And what is your position on that? Thank you so much.
MR JONES: Thanks. So the Strategic Concept is a public document, so you can see what we say about the threat from Russia. But we see, obviously, growing Russian aggression, Russia threatening and using force against a peaceful neighbor, committing atrocities within Ukraine. These are all reflected in the Strategic Concept, and NATO has had to adapt to those – NATO – the Strategic Concept by definition speaks mainly to the threat to the Alliance.
But we also speak about partnerships. NATO has a broad network of partnerships, including with those countries that seek to join the Alliance, including Georgia, including Ukraine, including Bosnia and Herzegovina. And the Alliance also made decisions on ways to enhance those partnerships, so we have enhanced partnerships in ways we can both improve the resilience of these countries and enhance their own defense capabilities and their interoperability with NATO and help them to drive their own reform processes that make them stronger candidates for NATO. And so I think in that way NATO has not lost its focus on any of these partnerships and are looking for ways to enhance them.
On the question of grain, I won’t say much about that, other than to say that this is important. There is growing food insecurity in the world that is caused by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. It’s clear why there’s growing food insecurity and it’s because of Russia, and we are taking actions to address this as best we can to mitigate it, but Russia’s blocking of the export of grain is the root cause and we look for them to allow these grain flows to continue and also to stop the theft of Ukrainian grain, which is illegal and which we intend to hold Russians accountable for, as we intend to hold them accountable for all of the crimes that are being committed and the atrocities being committed in Ukraine.
MODERATOR: Okay, we have time for one or perhaps more) questions. Okay, Olga Koshelenko, please. From Ukraine. Oh, sorry. I’m sorry. We can stay – Magdalena, sorry. Beg your pardon.
QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Magda Sakowska. I’m with Polish TV outlet Polsat News. I would like to ask about China. As you said, China was mentioned in the Strategic Concept of NATO, and that is a challenge that China seeks to undermine international-based rules. How big is the threat posed by China to NATO, and what could be done to minimize the threat?
And the second question: How would you describe the current relationship between Beijing and Washington? Thank you.
MR JONES: Thanks. That is one of the most significant changes in the Strategic Concept from the old one to the new one, but also in the strategic environment in which NATO is dealing. So what the Strategic Concept says is it acknowledged for the first time in a Strategic Concept that China’s coercive policies and its attempts to undermine the rules-based order have implications for transatlantic security. So this is not about NATO going to the Indo-Pacific and getting involved there, this is about the impact that China has on transatlantic security and the need for NATO to deal with that.
And so your question about how can NATO do this – most of the work that NATO is focused on in this area is both using NATO as the forum where we consult and share information, where we are sharing information and analyses about the People’s Republic of China. And also NATO’s focus is on resilience. How do – how can we support each other in building our resilience to these kinds of challenges that China is posing – and this takes many forms. It takes forms of cyber, hybrid disinformation, and also coercive lending practices and investing in infrastructure, which also poses risks to allied security.
So that’s been NATO’s focus. We’re going to focus on ways that we can build our collective resilience against these kinds of challenges that we’re seeing from the People’s Republic of China in the transatlantic space.
QUESTION: And the second was: How would you describe the current relationship between Beijing and Washington?
MR JONES: Since I work in the European Bureau and not on the Asia Pacific Bureau, I’m not really going to – I won’t be the one to take that question.
MODERATOR: Yes, we have one – another question from Georgia, I believe. Please, yes.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Hold for the —
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you very much. I’m Rusu; my name is Rusu. I’m from Georgia, from TV Medi. It’s my first time here. I’m really glad to be here. So I want to ask – you mentioned about partnership between U.S. and Georgia and Ukraine. I want to ask about Georgia. You know that Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspiration have been widely supported by our people for decades under different governments and circumstances. Is it possible now to discuss specific timeframes? And what can you tell us about Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic perspective?
MR JONES: So they did speak about this, of course, at the summit, as I mentioned. The Allies reaffirmed their support for the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Georgia and the other aspirants – and committed to enhancing the partnerships in ways that they can. And I think another clear message out of this summit – and we saw this from Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO – is that the door does truly remain open to NATO. NATO does have an “Open Door” policy. And when partners meet the membership criteria, they will be invited to join.
And so I think that Georgia should take encouragement from that, and that NATO looks to Georgia to continue its path, to continue the reforms necessary to meet membership criteria, so to continue to strengthen its democratic institutions, to strengthen the rule of law, to improve the interoperability of its forces. All of these things are critical not only to speed Georgia on its membership path, but also, frankly, to make it a stronger, more resilient democracy and country.
MODERATOR: In the back. Please.
QUESTION: My name is Olga Koshelenko. I am from Ukrainian 1+1 TV. And you have already mentioned of food insecurity, and from what we know, Russia does attempt to sell stolen Ukrainian grain in different countries. What could be done to stop it and to prevent from selling actually stolen things?
MR JONES: Thank you. It’s a great question. I mean, what I can say to that is that this is something we think is extremely important and we’re focused on it. I can’t give you a specific answer to how to address this, but this is a theft; it is a crime. There needs to be, in addition to political response, a law enforcement response to this as well. And that is our focus going forward. It’s not only to address food insecurity globally, but it’s to address this type of crime that we’re seeing Russia committing in Ukraine.
MODERATOR: Okay, I think we’re going to Pablo Pardo. Go ahead, Pablo.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. I’m Pablo Pardo from El Mundo from Spain. I’d like to ask you, in Spain specifically – I mean, obviously, right now Ukraine is taking all the attention from NATO, and there’s this perception that the southern flank of the Alliance has been kind of sidelined or is going, like, in a kind of secondary thought. Well, I would like to know your views about it. Thank you.
MR JONES: Thank you. I mean, look, no doubt that Ukraine – what’s happening in Ukraine was the headline of the summit, but NATO is a capable organization, and it can do more than one thing at a time. And the leaders were clear that NATO is going to continue its 360-degree approach to security. So we’re not just looking east; we’re looking in 360 degrees to address all the threats and challenges posed to the Alliance. And I think that you can be confident that NATO will continue to focus on threats from the south, and I think we saw that at the summit.
So of the three formal sessions that the leaders had, one of them was focused exclusively on the south. And so that showed, at the head of state level, they continue to focus on this. And if you look at the Strategic Concept, it talks about Russia, it talks about China, and it also talks about terrorism identified as one of the major threats facing the Alliance. And so we have not taken our eyes off of that ball.
Even in the force posture announcements, of course, you saw most of the forces being deployed to the east, but the United States also announced the deployment of two additional destroyers to Rota in Spain. So I think we are – we have not lost sight of the importance of providing 360-degree security and for all of the Allies.
MODERATOR: Okay. I think we’re going to end the question-and-answer there. DAS Jones, do you have any final remarks you’d like to make?
MR JONES: No. You have all done your jobs well and asked all the questions, so I’m not left with anything else to say other than thank you for coming and thank you for your focus on these important issues.
MODERATOR: Okay. And with that, I’d like to thank you, DAS Jones, for briefing today and I’d like to thank all our FPC member journalists who participated today in the briefing room in person and online. This concludes our briefing. Thank you.