NATO defense ministers’ recommendations pave the way for Madrid Summit
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers had succeeded in “laying the groundwork” for important discussions and decisions to be taken at the NATO summit in Madrid later this month. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said of the Madrid summit that he believes it will be a transformative summit at a ‘crucial time for security’.
The ministers described the ongoing war in Ukraine as a setback to the existing international order, which was designed after the Second World War on the basis of rules established by the rule of law to resolve conflicts peacefully.
Austin, who played a prominent role in the NATO defense ministers’ discussions, said that Russia’s war against Ukraine poses a direct challenge to that order and that NATO must respond.
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Austin said the international system had been successful in the 20th century in preventing a repeat of the great power wars that killed 60 million people, despite the small wars that occurred. NATO played an effective role in preventing a war with the Soviet Union and was able to adapt to the disintegration phase after the fall of the Berlin Wall to ensure peace, the US Defense Secretary said. “Since the attempted invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which could not be defended, we have had to confront events that we hoped would never happen. NATO has met the challenge with determination and above all with unity.”
“During this major crisis in European security, we are proud to stand together to strengthen the rules-based international order that protects us all,” the US Secretary of Defense said, adding that NATO looks forward to strengthening deterrence and defense in the eastern countries. The Minister emphasized that NATO has “raised the level of challenge of Putin’s war of choice and Russia’s attack on transatlantic security.” “Our allies have put NATO’s defense plans in place. They have deployed tens of thousands of troops to NATO’s eastern regions, as well as key air and naval positions under direct NATO command,” Austin said.
Emphasizing that NATO is looking forward to the future and that its leaders are developing long-term plans to deter any aggression and defend every square inch of its territory, which is currently being targeted, especially in the eastern part, the US Secretary said that many of the ministers’ recommendations will be part of the issues to be presented to NATO leaders at the summit in Madrid, including decisions on the designation of bases and the deployment of forces across the continent.
On China, Austin said that NATO members must recognize the importance of the Indo-Pacific region and ensure that it remains ‘free, open’ and accessible. “Russia is not the only country trying to disrupt the rules-based order. China, despite its economic rise, also wants to change the order,” he said. “That is why we have seen a number of member states working in cooperation with countries like Australia and Japan,” he added, emphasizing that NATO’s new strategic approach is to carefully monitor the Indo-Pacific region.