SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG: So Secretary Blinken, dear Tony, welcome to NATO Headquarters. It’s great have you back here, and thank you for your tremendous leadership and for your tireless efforts in this critical time for our security. Later on today, NATO defense – NATO foreign ministers will meet and coordinate and consult on our response to the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine and also the longer-term implications.
We condemn the attacks on civilians, and over the night we have also seen reports about the attack against a nuclear power plant. This just demonstrates the recklessness of this war and the importance of ending it and the importance of Russia withdrawing all its troops and engage in good faith in diplomatic efforts.
NATO Allies have implemented unprecedented sanctions. We provide support to Ukraine. At the same time, NATO is not part to the conflict. NATO is a defensive alliance. We don’t seek war, conflict with Russia. At the same time, we need to make sure that there is no misunderstanding about our commitment to defend and protect our Allies, and therefore we have increased the presence of NATO forces in the eastern part of the Alliance. This is a defensive presence, and I welcome the strong commitment by – from the United States with more troops. I met many of them, and it’s always great to meet U.S. troops in Europe and to see their commitment and their professionalism being part of the transatlantic bond.
I also welcome that European allies and Canada are stepping up with more presence in the eastern part of the Alliance on land, at sea, and in the air. If anything, I think the crisis we are facing now demonstrates the importance of North America standing together in strategic solidarity in NATO. So once again, Tony, welcome. It’s great to see you here.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Jens, thank you so much, and I really couldn’t say it any better. But simply put, in the wake of Russia’s unprovoked, premeditated aggression against Ukraine, this Alliance came together with speed, with unity, with determination, immediately launching the rapid response task force, putting in place the graduated plans to continue to bolster NATO’s security. Every Ally in one way or another is coming to Ukraine’s assistance. Every Ally in one way or another is helping to strengthen NATO itself. And as the secretary general said, ours is a defensive alliance. We seek no conflict. But if conflict comes to us, we are ready for it, and we will defend every inch of NATO territory.
At the same time, as the secretary general said, we’re preparing for NATO’s future. And the events of the last few weeks as they continue will further inform that future, particularly going into the NATO summit in a few months, and the writing of a new strategic concept. All of these things are coming together at a critical time. But the single common denominator that we found, and that is the strength of everything that we do, is the unity of this Alliance. It’s been on full display in these weeks. It will remain on full display going forward. And I look forward to consulting with you, Jens, about the steps we’re going to take next. Thank you.
SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG: Thank you.