NÅDENDAL / HARPSUND (VG) More soldiers in the East. Several pre-stocks. Military units are on high alert. For the first time, Jens Stoltenberg talks about how NATO has strengthened its common defense as a result of the Russian attack on Ukraine.
In this interview with VG, the NATO Secretary General also warned countries that want more free trade with China.
Norway is one of them.
But Stoltenberg will first talk about measures to prevent an arbitrary president – for example, Donald Trump – from jeopardizing 70 years of NATO cooperation:
At a turbulent and dangerous time, it is vital that Europe and North America stand together. We must strengthen the institutions that we have, and the best way to do that is to strengthen NATO. The stronger the relationships, says Stoltenberg, the more difficult it is to build individuals and politicians.
If you fear that leaders will be elected in the United States or other countries who oppose this cooperation, you must strengthen it so that it also faces adversity, and can withstand all kinds of weather.
Everyone on the plane
In recent days, VG Stoltenberg and his entourage of advisers, security guards, communications personnel and a separate NATO TV team followed suit.
A three-day beard is an obvious consequence of the fact that he had shingles a few days ago.
Much more interest around Turkey’s blockade of new members From the Russian war in Ukraine, is a clear consequence of our presence in Sweden and Finland.
Jens Stoltenberg, with his steadfast love of compromise, must take Turkey’s objections seriously. No decisions can be taken in NATO without the consent of all 30 countries.
But at the same time: Stoltenberg’s high-profile trip to the developed countries says something about the other 29 NATO countries that want Sweden and Finland as soon as possible. So does the head of NATO.
Stoltenberg is also busy preparing for the NATO summit, which he will chair in Madrid in just two weeks. It was previously announced that NATO would renew the organization’s world view in itself strategic concept.
The NATO Secretary General said that NATO will stand up to Russia with a strong defence.
– What would it look like?
– In the conversations I had, there is agreement on an important reinforcement. What I can say is that it is partly about more troops in the east, but also more pre-positioning of equipment and ammunition so that you can quickly send soldiers. We also want soldiers on high alert, forces that can come to the rescue quickly, he says.
After President Putin seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, NATO built a pIt must be based in four member states which borders to the east. Then combat battalions with NATO soldiers came into place, including Norwegian soldiers in Lithuania.
After Russia went to war against Ukraine, these bases were strengthened and Four other countries in the east have requested and received troops on the ground. NATO now has 40,000 soldiers directly under its command.
This has become a phrase that Stoltenberg frequently repeats:
– Putin wants less NATO. Now he gets more NATO.
It will last for a long time
A month ago he said that Ukraine can win this war.
When VG now asks how he thinks the war in Ukraine will end, he answers like this, somewhat more pessimistically:
War is unpredictable. But we must be prepared for the fact that it will last for a long time, and will lead to a lot of suffering for the Ukrainian people for a long time to come. Unfortunately.
Two percent goal
What is the price for each NATO country’s enhanced defense?
– It will cost, yes. But peace and freedom cost money. So unfortunate that Russia has chosen confrontation is that we should invest more in defense.
But less than half of NATO countries spend 2% or more of their GDP on defence. Is it possible to ask for more?
– I understand that politicians prefer to spend money on health, roads and schools, but unfortunately we have to invest more in security in a more dangerous world. So you are right that not all countries are 2%. But everyone is investing more, and a clear majority has plans to reach the goal by 2024. The goal is not to start a war, but to deter and prevent war.
Is there a will on the part of all member states to repeat the 2% target in Madrid?
– After the invasion of Ukraine, everyone understands that one must strengthen the defense. I would like to see it different. But we have a neighbor who uses military force against another, who is willing to incur heavy losses and cause great suffering. The most important thing is that we deliver on what we promised, which is 2%. Of course, exceeding two percent is allowed, Stoltenberg says, as many do as well.
– The strategic concept of NATO will look forward to 2030. How is the relationship with Russia in 10 years?
Nobody can predict with certainty what the world will look like in 10 years. But what we can say is that the world will be more marked by competition between great powers. We see an aggressive Russia. We see China rapidly growing as a military power, investing heavily in new weapons and cooperating more closely with Russia.
– How will relations with Russia be after the end of the war?
– We did our best to prevent war, but we still have to deal with Russia, on issues such as climate and arms control. But trust in President Putin and the possibility of dialogue declined sharply. The most important thing is to ensure the continuity of the new start agreement. But we hope to move forward some day, and engage China.
At the Madrid Summit, which begins on June 28, the 30 NATO countries will demonstrate A common view of China. The country has not been mentioned in the NATO Strategic Concept since 2010. In 2019, China was mentioned in one sentence.
There is a lot of interest in how NATO describes China: a trading partner? the enemy? competitor?
– Heads of state and government will have to decide on this, says Stoltenberg.
– By no means do I expect China to be declared an enemy. No one wants isolation or boycott. But China is important to our security. It is an authoritarian state that oppresses its population and builds significant military capabilities, including long-range nuclear missiles. And they put pressure on other countries, in their region, but also Australia and Canada, as they did against Norway after the Peace Prize.
Do you criticize China for influencing the country to go in a different direction?
We must understand that China makes ourselves less likely to use economic power against us. We have been taught that free trade does not necessarily lead to freedom, but that we become dependent on individual goods. Such as gas from Russia or rare metals from China. Or that we share advanced technology with them under the guise of free trade, or we allow them into our critical infrastructure like 5G.
Some countries, such as Norway, are negotiating free trade agreements with China. Should countries stop these operations?
Countries regulate trade with China in different ways. But in both FTAs and economic cooperation with China, the consequences of security policy must be taken into account.
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