Today, Friday, NATO defense ministers concluded a two-day meeting in which they discussed the military challenges posed by Russia and China, as well as the situation in Afghanistan.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at the conclusion of the meeting – which was held at NATO headquarters in Brussels – that it was necessary to confront “threats from China,” and added that his country called for joint action to reduce those threats.
Asked about the possibility of China attacking the island of Taiwan, Austin said, “No one would like to see such scenarios happen and there is no reason for them to happen. We have said this and repeat it: We will maintain our policy toward China and commit China to its 3 commitments and 6 declarations on Taiwan.”
The Kremlin confirms its position
With regard to Russia, the Kremlin said today that NATO’s adoption of a new strategy focusing on Russia confirms the correctness of Moscow’s decision to sever relations with it.
“There is no need for dialogue in these circumstances,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a news briefing. “Russia has never had any illusions about NATO. We know the nature of this alliance… It was conceived, designed and created for confrontation.”
In the same context, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said that NATO is constantly strengthening its military presence near Russia’s borders, considering that this creates a new military reality similar to “Cold War schemes.”
Grushko added that this presence is not limited to increasing military activity or the pace of maneuvers, but rather to strengthening the alliance’s infrastructure and deploying its equipment.
During their meeting, NATO defense ministers agreed on a new major defense plan to counter any possible Russian attack on multiple fronts, which is a reaffirmation of the alliance’s primary goal in deterring Moscow, despite its growing interest in China.
A few days ago, Russia severed its relations with NATO by closing its diplomatic mission to the alliance and its headquarters in Moscow, after it expelled 8 Russians accused of spying.
European defense plans
On the other hand, the NATO meeting witnessed a discussion of the European Union’s defense plans in light of the uncertainty about its recent efforts to develop weapons and forces and whether this makes it in competition with the alliance.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly advised her NATO counterparts today not to be afraid of the European Union’s defense plans, saying that the United States would benefit from them and that any European capabilities would lead to the strengthening of the alliance.
“Building European defense is not to counter NATO, but quite the opposite. When Europe is stronger, it will contribute to increasing the capabilities and strength of the alliance,” she added during a session attended by the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin responded by saying that he welcomes the development of European defense capabilities, repeating what was stated in a joint statement by the presidents of France and the United States last September.
Turkey’s Military Purchases
On another matter, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance meeting did not discuss Turkey’s military purchases from Russia, specifically the S-400 missile defense system deal.
“What I see and what NATO members see is that defense procurement is a sovereign national decision and is not related to NATO,” the NATO Secretary General stated.
He added, “As I said before, the S-400 is a Russian system and cannot be integrated into the NATO defense system, because it is not compatible with it from a technical point of view. This was the message that we expressed, and we are looking at finding alternative systems and this work is still continuing.”