NATO to increase the number of troops in its high readiness force to over 300,000

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Finland and Sweden to participate in NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the NATO Response Force will be transformed and the high readiness force will be increased to over 300,000.

Finland and Sweden to participate in NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea

Stoltenberg held a press conference at the headquarters in Brussels ahead of the summit to be held in the Spanish capital Madrid on June 29-30.

“We will transform the NATO Response Force (NRF) and increase the number of troops in our high readiness forces to over 300,000,” Stoltenberg said, sharing the latest data on defense spending.

Stoltenberg stated that European allies and Canada have increased the amount of their spending for the 8th consecutive year and that by the end of the year, more than 350 billion dollars will have been spent.

Emphasizing that 9 of the allies have reached or exceeded the 2 percent target, Stoltenberg said that 19 of them have pledged to meet this target by 2024.

Ukraine

Stoltenberg stated that he was pleased that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will attend the summit and said:

“We will agree on a strengthened comprehensive aid package for Ukraine. This will include important support deliveries in areas such as secure communications, anti-drone systems and fuel. In the longer term, we will help Ukraine transition from Soviet-era military equipment to modern NATO equipment and further strengthen its defense and security institutions.”

Stoltenberg also touched on the issue of exporting Ukraine’s wheat, emphasizing that various NATO countries are making efforts for this. “I met with President Erdogan and Turkey is playing an active role to find a way for ships to pass through the Black Sea and for wheat to be exported out of Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.

Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership

Regarding Finland and Sweden’s applications for NATO membership, Stoltenberg said, “We aim to make progress on this issue.”

On June 25, Stoltenberg stated that he met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and today he will meet with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. Stoltenberg also said that senior officials from the three countries will hold a meeting at NATO headquarters today.

“I am glad that President Erdoğan, (Finnish) President (Sauli) Niinisto and Prime Minister Andersson have accepted my invitation to meet tomorrow in Madrid,” Stoltenberg said.

In response to a question, Stoltenberg said that they were working hard to address Turkey’s security concerns, but emphasized that he could not give a date and that the summit was not a deadline in this sense.

Stoltenberg announced that Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea will attend the NATO Summit for the first time, the European Union (EU) and Georgia will also be present, and new support packages will be adopted for Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Mauritania and Tunisia.

The Secretary General noted that the Strategic Concept to be adopted at the summit will for the first time classify China as a threat to NATO’s security.

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