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Davos 2022: Special address by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General, addressed the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General, addressed Davos 2022. Image: World Economic Forum

Jens Stoltenberg
Secretary general, NATO
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

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It is great to be back in Davos in person, after two years without this gathering.

For half a century, the World Economic Forum has brought the global community together. To exchange ideas, insights and solutions on some of the world’s most important and difficult problems. Today we need this spirit of Davos even more.

President Putin’s war on Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe. It is a game-changer - not just for European security, but for the global order.

NATO has two fundamental tasks in response to Russia’s aggression. Providing support to Ukraine and preventing the war from escalating.

For many years, NATO and NATO Allies have supported Ukraine, in particular the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and also Turkey. Providing equipment and training for tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers.

We see the difference this is making every day on the battlefield. Since Russia’s invasion, we have significantly stepped up our support, with billions of dollars of weapons and other assistance to help Ukraine uphold its right to self-defence, enshrined in the UN Charter.

NATO’s main responsibility is to protect all Allies and prevent this war from escalating, causing even greater death and destruction. We may have been shocked by Russia’s brutal invasion, but we should not be surprised. This invasion was one of the best-predicted acts of military aggression ever.

In NATO, we shared intelligence and we made it public for many months to warn about Putin’s plans. Russia’s attack on Ukraine is part of a pattern over many years, where Moscow uses military force to achieve its political aims. The destruction of Grozny. The invasion of Georgia. The annexation of Crimea. The bombing of Aleppo. And now, the war in Ukraine.

Since the first invasion of Ukraine in 2014, NATO has been adapting and preparing, with increased defence spending and invested in modern capabilities. We deployed combat-ready battlegroups in the eastern part of our Alliance for the first time in our history. We have increased the readiness of our forces and established new defense domains, including space and cyberspace.

When Russia invaded Ukraine again this year, NATO was ready. We deployed additional forces to the east of our Alliance. Today, we have over 40,000 troops under direct NATO command, backed by significant air and naval assets. We doubled the number of multinational battlegroups from the Baltic to the Black Sea and we have 100,000 troops on high alert, ready to respond to any aggression and to defend every inch of NATO territory.

This is deterrence, to remove any room for misunderstanding or miscalculation in Moscow. Not to provoke conflict, but to prevent conflict and preserve peace.

Last December, President Putin presented an ultimatum to NATO. He demanded a legally binding treaty to rewrite the security architecture in Europe, to re-establish spheres of influence, to force NATO to withdraw from the eastern part of the Alliance and to end NATO enlargement. He wanted less NATO on his borders and launched a war. And now he is getting more NATO on his borders and more members.

Finland and Sweden’s decision to apply for NATO membership is historic. It demonstrates that European security will not be dictated by violence and intimidation. All Allies agree that NATO enlargement has been a great success, spreading freedom and democracy across Europe. So I am confident that we will be able to find a way to address all Allies’ security concerns and welcome NATO’s closest partners into our family of free nations.

In the meantime, NATO is vigilant in the Baltic Sea region, and Allies have increased their presence. We have stepped up our exercises and deployments and for the first time ever, a US Amphibious Ready Group has been placed under NATO command.

Finland and Sweden’s membership would also strengthen the close bonds between NATO and the European Union. European security and transatlantic security are deeply intertwined. Today, close to 600 million Europeans live in a NATO country and 93 percent of the EU population is protected by NATO.

The ever-closer coordination between NATO and the EU has been critical for dealing with the current crisis.

As you just heard from Ursula von der Leyen, NATO Allies and the European Union have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Putin’s war machine. Countries from Switzerland to South Korea have joined us and also applied sanctions. And hundreds of international companies have pulled out of Russia.

These massive sanctions remind us of one of the important lessons from this conflict, that we should not trade long-term security needs for short-term economic interests.

The war in Ukraine demonstrates how economic relations with authoritarian regimes can create vulnerabilities - over-reliance on the import of key commodities, like energy, risks created by exporting advanced technologies, like Artificial Intelligence, and weakened resilience caused by foreign control over critical infrastructure, like 5G.

This is about Russia. But also about China. Another authoritarian regime that does not share our values. And that undermines the rules-based international order.

International trade has undoubtedly brought great prosperity. I, and many of us here today, have worked hard to promote a more globalized economy, but we must recognize that our economic choices have consequences for our security. Freedom is more important than free trade. The protection of our values is more important than profit.

At the NATO Summit in Madrid next month, NATO leaders will make bold decisions to continue to strengthen and adapt our Alliance for this more dangerous and competitive world.

This conflict in Ukraine has underlined the importance of Europe and North America standing together in NATO, and of working with our like-minded partners around the world, to defend our values, and promote peace and prosperity.

In the spirit of Davos, I count on you too!

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