News   Partnerships

Stoltenberg Expects NATO Leaders to Strengthen Alliance Posture

March 23, 2022 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he expects leaders will approve plans to strengthen the alliance's posture in all domains of warfare and to continue their unwavering support for the people of Ukraine.

A man speaks from behind a lectern.
Stoltenberg Speech
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg answers reporters’ questions during a news conference about the alliance’s upcoming summit, March 23, 2022.
Photo By: NATO photo
VIRIN: 220323-O-D0439-002

Stoltenberg previewed the summit meeting of NATO allies — which will include President Joe Biden — during a press conference in Brussels. He said this is a "pivotal moment" for security. 

During the alliance summit tomorrow, Stoltenberg said he expects further decisions to be made. "I expect leaders will agree to strengthen NATO's posture in all domains, with major increases to our forces in the eastern part of the alliance on land, in the air, and at sea," he said. "The first step is the deployment of four new NATO battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia." 

These would join NATO battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. "This means that we will have eight multinational NATO battle groups all along the eastern flank, from the Baltic to the Black Sea," he said. "We face a new reality for our security. So, we must reset our deterrence and defense for the longer-term." 

Five service members lie on their stomachs out in the field as two aircraft fly overhead.
Training Event
U.S. Air Force tactical air control party operators and German joint fires observers pass target data to B-52H Stratofortress bombers during training for dynamic targeting and close air support at the U.S. Army’s 7th Army Training Command's Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 4, 2022. The B-52H aircraft are flying over Europe in support of the United States' decision to increase its presence and activities in Europe.
Photo By: Gertrud Zach, Army
VIRIN: 220304-A-HE359-0136

Biden will participate in the meetings at NATO headquarters and will journey on to Poland later in the week. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III is accompanying the president. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the NATO meeting remotely from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, which is under Russian attack. 

Stoltenberg condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's attack on Ukraine. "Allies stand united in support for the brave people of Ukraine and against the Kremlin's cruelty," the secretary general said. "Putin must end this war, allow aid and safe passage for civilians, and engage in real diplomacy." 

Putin's war has unified the NATO allies, and the nations have imposed crushing sanctions on Russia, the country's leaders, and others who enable the invasion of a sovereign nation.  

A man stands at a lectern; people in the audience raise their hands.
Stoltenberg Speech
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg answers reporters’ questions during a news conference about the alliance’s upcoming summit, March 23, 2022.
Photo By: NATO photo
VIRIN: 220323-O-D0439-001

"NATO has acted with speed and unity to protect and defend all allies," Stoltenberg said. "There are now hundreds of thousands of allied troops at heightened readiness across the alliance — 100,000 U.S. troops in Europe and 40,000 forces under direct NATO command, mostly in the eastern part of the alliance." 

These forces are backed by the full force of the alliance in the air, at sea, in cyberspace and in space.  

The secretary general said the alliance leaders will reaffirm support for Ukraine. "Ukraine has the right to self-defense under the U.N. charter, and we are helping Ukrainians to uphold this fundamental right," he said. "Since 2014, allies have trained Ukraine's armed forces and significantly strengthened their capabilities. [The Ukrainians] are putting that training into practice now, on the front lines with great bravery." 

From the start of this crisis, Europe and North America have stood together, united in NATO. And we remain united, opposing Russia's aggression, supporting Ukraine and protecting all allies."
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General

NATO allies have worked feverishly to equip and train Ukrainian forces, he said. "In the last months, allies have stepped up military support providing anti-tank and air-defense systems, drones, fuel and ammunition, as well as financial aid and hosting millions of refugees," he said. "Tomorrow, I expect allies will agree to provide additional support including cybersecurity assistance." 

In an ominous note, Stoltenberg also said the allies will provide equipment "to help Ukraine protect against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats." 

While aiding Ukraine is important, he said, ensuring the conflict doesn't escalate to a war between Russia and NATO is paramount. "This would cause even more death and even more destruction," he said. 

A line of tanks sit atop rail cars.
Bradley's on the Move
Dozens of M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles are loaded onto German rail cars at the Coleman worksite in Mannheim, Germany, March 14, 2022. The U.S. Army’s 405th Army Field Support Brigade is now shipping Army prepositioned stocks by line-haul transporters on the German railway. Supplies will be received by the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at an equipment configuration and handoff area. U.S. soldiers are deployed to Germany in the face of Russian aggression; the U.S. now has more than 100,000 service members in Europe.
Photo By: Army Maj. Allan Laggui
VIRIN: 220316-A-SM279-520

With the Russian invasion, the global security situation has shifted. "We face a fundamentally changed security environment where authoritarian powers are increasingly prepared to use force to get their way," Stoltenberg said. "So, I expect we will also address the role of China in this crisis. Beijing has joined Moscow in questioning the right of independent nations to choose their own path. China has provided Russia with political support, including by spreading blatant lies and disinformation. And allies are concerned that China could provide material support for the Russian invasion." 

Stoltenberg said he expects leaders will call on China to live up to its responsibilities as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and join the rest of the world in calling for an immediate, peaceful end to this war. 

The Russian invasion has given NATO allies a new sense of urgency "because we cannot take peace for granted," Stoltenberg said. "From the start of this crisis, Europe and North America have stood together, united in NATO. And we remain united, opposing Russia's aggression, supporting Ukraine and protecting all allies."