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News   Defense News

Austin, Robles Stress NATO Unity During Pentagon Meeting

May 19, 2022 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

NATO unity was a big part of the discussions in the Pentagon today as Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosted Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles. 

Spain will host the NATO Summit in Madrid next month. Officials said that NATO leaders will discuss a new footprint for NATO forces in Europe at that time. 

A group of sailors and firefighters battle an aircraft fire.
Fire Line
Sailors and Spanish firefighters combat a training fire at Naval Station Rota, Spain, Aug. 4, 2020, during Lazy Altitude, an integrated aircraft-mishap exercise.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin A. Lewis
VIRIN: 200804-N-TR141-0345C

The possible new footprint, of course, is a result of Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering the Russian army to invade neighboring Ukraine. 

"We're meeting today at a pivotal moment in European history — when democratic values and the rules-based international order are under attack," Austin said at the beginning of the meeting. "So especially now, we stand united. Spain has long been a steadfast ally of the United States, and together, we're going to continue to support the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian people in the face of Russia's unprovoked and indefensible invasion." 

Austin said the NATO support is making a difference on the battlefields of Ukraine's Donbas region. "We welcome Spain's important military contributions to deterrence along NATO's eastern flank," he said. "And we applaud your direct security assistance and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine."  

But there are other threats in the world, and the two leaders discussed them. "We must not overlook NATO's southern flank," Austin said. "Our competitors continue to seek a foothold there, and instability could develop into threats that reach our homelands."  

Spain has long been a leader in this effort. Austin noted that Spain's strategic position makes it a "fulcrum of Europe, Africa and the Atlantic." 

"In these turbulent times, the NATO Summit in Madrid next month will mark a turning point for the alliance as leaders endorse a new strategic concept — one that must look both east and south," he said.  

Two uniformed service members stand aside two children interacting with remote controlled devices.
Robot Ops
Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 8 instruct children on how to operate their robots during the second annual Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics Expo and Family Night held at the Rota Elementary School campus, April 27, 2022. The event showcased related applications through community presentations and displays.
Photo By: Courtney Pollock, Naval Station Rota Spain
VIRIN: 220427-N-GA645-1038

Spain also hosts American forces at the Spanish Naval Station Rota and Moron Air Base. Austin thanked the minister for her nation's hospitality and said they would examine ways to improve the already robust bilateral relationship between the two nations. 

Robles said the alliance is going through a very crucial and difficult moment. "The situation in Ukraine shows to the world that we have a lot of threats, and we have to stand together," she said. "The unity is our strength."