WASHINGTON, Sept. 5, 2014 —
The NATO Summit in Wales came at a time of transition and testing for the alliance, President Barack Obama said at the conclusion of the meeting today.
As NATO ends combat in Afghanistan, the 28-member alliance finds itself facing challenges ranging from Russian actions against Ukraine to the terrorist threats in the Middle East and Africa.
“At this summit, our alliance has summoned the will, the resources, and the capabilities to meet all of these challenges,” the president said.
The allies reaffirmed the central tenet of NATO enshrined in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty signed in 1949 -- that an attack on one ally is an attack on all.
“This is a binding treaty obligation. It is non-negotiable,” Obama said. “And here in Wales, we’ve left absolutely no doubt we will defend every ally.”
The allies agreed “to be resolute in reassuring our allies in Eastern Europe,” Obama said. Increased NATO air patrols over the Baltic republics will continue, as will rotations of NATO forces throughout Eastern Europe for training and exercises. Ship deployments to the Black Sea also will continue. “All 28 NATO nations agree to contribute to all of these measures for as long as necessary,” the president said.
The alliance must have forces able to deploy quickly, and which can operate effectively for any contingency, Obama said, and the allies agreed to a new readiness action plan, which will update defense planning. “We will create a new highly ready rapid response force that can be deployed on a very short notice,” he added. “We will increase NATO's presence in central and eastern Europe with additional equipment, training, exercises and troop rotations.”
The president said the $1 billion program he announced in June in Warsaw will be the start of the strong and continuing U.S. contribution to this plan.
All NATO nations pledged to increase investments in defense. The alliance has long had a goal of each nation spending 2 percent of gross domestic on defense. The United States is one of only four alliance nations that actually meets that goal. “These resources will help NATO invest in critical capabilities, including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and missile defense,” the president said.
Fully united in support of Ukraine
Finally, NATO nations are fully united in support of Ukraine’s “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and its right to defend itself,” Obama said. All NATO allies agreed to provide security assistance to Ukraine. This aid includes nonlethal support like body armor, fuel, and medical care for wounded Ukrainian troops. It also includes assistance to help modernize Ukrainian forces, including logistics and command and control.
All this sends the message to Russia and its leaders that their actions have consequences. “Today the United States and Europe are finalizing measures to deepen and broaden our sanctions across Russia’s financial, energy, and defense sectors,” the president said.
Still, alliance members strongly support Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s efforts to pursue a peaceful resolution to the conflict, the president said.
“The cease-fire announced today can advance that goal, but only if there is follow-through on the ground,” he added. “Pro-Russian separatists must keep their commitments, and Russia must stop its violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)