A15. Secretary General: Finally, on UK defence spending, I know from my interaction with the UK Government that it is strongly committed to the two percent benchmark for defence spending.
Speech by NATO Secretary General Rasmussen
at Chatham House, London on 19 June 2014
Edited by Nigel Chamberlain
We are facing a turning point in history. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is an attempt to rewrite international rules and recreate a sphere of influence. We see states or extreme groups using violence to assert their power. Overall, we see threats old and new, from piracy to terrorism to cyber attacks. The choice is clear. Either we allow the world order that is the basis of our freedom, security and prosperity to unravel. Or we continue to make it stronger. The Summit in September will have three key focuses:
1. Completing the combat mission in Afghanistan.
We expect to develop a good relationship with the new President of Afghanistan and launch a new, non-combat mission, to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces from 2015. I am hopeful that we will soon conclude the necessary legal agreements to make this possible.
2. Strengthening collective defence.
We are developing an Alliance Readiness Action Plan which will address how we can best deploy our forces for defence and deterrence. This includes force posture, positions, and presence. We are considering reinforcement measures, such as necessary infrastructure, designation of bases and pre-positioning of equipment and supplies. We are reviewing our defence plans, threat assessments, intelligence-sharing arrangements, early-warning procedures, and crisis response planning. We are developing a new exercise schedule, adapted to the new security environment. And we want to further strengthen our NATO Response Force and Special Forces, so we can respond more quickly to any threat against any member of the Alliance, including where we have little warning.
We will also take important steps to improve our capabilities. And we will focus on the 16 most critical capabilities that we need to meet the security challenges of today and tomorrow. Such as intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance. Missile defence. Cyber defence. Precision Guided Munitions. Air-to-air refuelling. But taking all these necessary steps to improve our collective defence cannot be done on the cheap. They require adequate and appropriate investment. Indeed, since 2008, Russia has increased its defence spending by around 50% while, on average, NATO Allies have decreased theirs by about 20%. This gap needs to be addressed.
Two thirds of total defence spending by NATO Allies comes from the United States. This is unsustainable. If we Europeans want the United States to remain committed to European security, we must show a commitment to pick up our part of the bill. European nations must do more. If all European nations were to meet the 2% spending guideline this year, we would have an extra 90 billion dollars to invest in defence. So it’s time to stop the defence cuts. To start reversing the trend.
3. Staying engaged globally.
An effective response to today’s complex challenges requires the right connections with other nations and organisations, wherever they may be located on the globe. We will outline ways to build on the considerable experience we have gained in over 20 years of working with our partners. We want to be able to assist partners and fragile states build a stronger security sector when they turn to us. To help them help themselves. And to project stability without always projecting significant forces of our own.
We are now developing a new Defence Capacity Building initiative which will allow us to better focus our support in the areas of defence reform, defence planning, and also military training. Depending on what a partner country may request, our assistance could range from sending specialist advisory teams all the way through to establishing a training mission.
Our plan for ‘Future NATO’ is comprehensive and ambitious. But it is also realistic. As we look to the future, we need to remember that the transatlantic bond is the foundation for the world order. And as security threats and our responses change, the historical, political and economic bond between Europe and North America remains rock solid.
Our Wales Summit will be an opportunity to demonstrate that NATO remains an essential source of stability in an unpredictable world. NATO is more than a military Alliance. We are a community of values. And we stand ready to protect and promote the values upon which we have built our free societies and created unparalleled progress and prosperity.
There follows an edited Q&A session
Q1. Moderator: One of the themes that emerged from the three recent NATO consultation papers was this idea that collective defence may need to adapt itself to what some people call non-linear threats or hybrid threats. We may be faced with the types of risk that don't naturally give themselves to a response that might rely on pre-positioned military equipment or contingency planning kind of military exercises, or even the NATO Response Force perhaps. Is there more of a role for EU-NATO cooperation in this space?
A1. Secretary General: This is the key question, a very important issue, and we will address it also in the run-up to the summit. We could call it a modern kind of warfare. A combination of covert military operations combined with sophisticated information and disinformation operations. And it's of utmost importance that we stand ready to also address such security challenges. You might also call it a‘full-spectrum deterrence’. It will involve intensified cooperation with other organizations because this goes beyond defence and traditional military capabilities. It will involve close cooperation with other organizations like the European Union.
Q2. John Wills, Member of the Institute and a journalist: How are you going to implement your aspirations? Obviously there isn't enough money being spent by the NATO Allies, and there doesn't seem to be a strong enough political will for intervention.
A2. Secretary General: The illegal Russian military actions in Ukraine are a reminder that we cannot take security and freedom for granted. So we have to invest sufficiently in security and defence. The question of political is exactly what we want to address at the Summit, because it needs to be addressed at the very highest political level.
Q3. Kamal al-Wani (ph), Al Horra (ph) TV: Do you have now any kind of plan to intervene in Iraq to rescue the Iraqi Government?
A3. Secretary General: The Iraqi Government has requested, at least from one of our Allies, some military assistance. Whatever might be the decision by individual Allies when it comes to military assistance to the Iraqi government, I have to say that any assistance would only be effective if it is combined with political efforts in Iraq to ensure a much more inclusive government than we have seen in the past.
Q4. Osla Rald (ph), Turkey's official news agency: Did Turkey seek any help from NATO since its General Consulate has been kidnapped with other Consulate staff? And if the situation expands to NATO Allies like Turkey, do you still have the same position of not intervening into Iraq?
A4. Secretary General: NATO has not received any request for assistance. We have had a consultation within NATO upon request of our Ally, Turkey. So the North Atlantic Council has convened, and we have had consultations on this issue.
A5. Ijimi Roussel (ph), Member of Chatham House: NATO has encroached to the territories previously occupied or controlled by the Soviet Union. Don't you think this is a provocation to Russia? As Russia’s military expenditure has increased by 50 per cent, NATO's has gone down. Obviously NATO has to increase its contributions to confront the Russians' expansion on military expenditure.
A5. Secretary General: NATO's open-door policy is not a provocation against anybody. On the contrary, everybody, including Russia, has profited from the zone of stability, security, and prosperity we have contributed to develop in Eastern and Central Europe.
Q6. Constantine Bikis (ph), Greek Ambassador: I don't know if you want to say anything more on the question of Iraq?
A6. Secretary General: Yes, ‘Lessons Learned’ and ‘Security Vacuums’. It was an Iraqi decision not to sign the necessary legal framework for continued presence that could have continued training the Iraqi security forces.
Q7. Gavin Cordon (ph), Press Association: I wonder if you could tell me what preparations NATO has made, what contingency planning, what discussions have gone on with the governments here and in Edinburgh in case Scotland does vote for independence later this year, and whether you share any of the concerns that have been voiced by figures such as President Obama, Premier Lee, and of course Lord Robertson?
A7. Secretary General: The brief answer is that it hasn't been discussed. And it's not only a brief answer; it's also the truth.
Q8. Zunia Dormandy (ph), US programme at Chatham House and acting Dean of the Academy: You've talked a little bit about pre-positioning, but it's not just about being able to move resources to the place that they're needed, but also to make decisions more quickly. There's a lot of divisiveness about the ability to make decisions in a coalition of 28. As you look to NATO of the future, how might you resolve that particular dilemma?
A8. Secretary General: I do believe that we have made progress in NATO during recent years. I can testify to the fact that, when there is an urgent situation, there is also a very strong political will to make decisions urgently. And there is a strong consensual spirit within our Alliance.
Q9. Nick Gowing: Can I pick up on Zunia's point about smart, nimble thinking? We are talking about new threats which are emerging incredibly quickly. Quite apart from the business of making decisions, it's actually the business of threat assessment and perception across borders which are crucial. General Breedlove gave an impression at the German Marshall Fund meeting at the end of March that this had all come as an amazing shock, and NATO was really struggling. So can I ask you to give us an idea of what it's like in the North Atlantic Council and behind closed doors in the Military Committee when assessing very quickly, in real time, what is happening, and therefore what the threat is to NATO?
A9. Secretary General: Wehave seen a dramatic change in the Russian way of conducting military operations. They react much faster and in a much more sophisticated way, let's face it. And that's exactly why we are preparing what we call a Readiness Action Plan which will look at improved intelligence, a better early warning and situational awareness. But I won’t go into specific detail here.
Q10. Moderator: Do you think there's been a decline in the capacity to understand and assess Russia amongst the member states? Do you think we've lost some of our feel for our ability to think about European security in the way we did before?
A10. Secretary General: I have to conclude that, after what we have seen in Ukraine, we have to adapt to the dramatically changed security situation in Europe. And of course it also includes reallocating resources to improve intelligence and early warning.
Q11. Tanya Sumsonov (ph), Russian journalist for Ahowve (ph), Moscow: We have evidence from the Russian Ministry of Defence that Russian military troops are relocating towards the border of the Ukraine, yesterday and today. Could you confirm that Russian troops are actually gathering and going back towards the border? The second question is what will be the NATO reaction if Russian troops will enter officially the Ukraine?
A11. Secretary General: I can confirm that we now see a new Russian military build-up along the Ukrainian border. At least a few thousand more Russian troops are now deployed there. And we see troop manoeuvres in the neighbourhood of Ukraine. If they are deployed to seal the border and stop the flow of weapons and equipment from Russia into Ukraine, it would be a positive step. But I also have to say that's not exactly what we are seeing. So I consider this a very regrettable step backwards. It seems that Russia keeps the option open to intervene further into Ukraine. I do believe that the international community would have to respond in a firm manner if Russia were to intervene further in Ukraine. And that would imply deeper, broader, more profound economic sanctions against Russia, which would have a very damaging effect on the Russian economy.
Q12. Ronan Tynen (ph), Member of Chatham House: The real power and the real leverage Russia has is its position as a key gas supplier to Europe. I would have to respectfully put it to you that a far better use of resources by Europe, and particularly the European Union, would be to invest heavily in shale gas production. Mr. Putin on one occasion actually lectured Germany about the environmental hazards of shale. So he’s well aware of the strategic value of the shale revolution.
A12. Secretary General: Energy security is of utmost importance. Of course this is not primarily NATO business. There may be NATO aspects, such as protection of essential infrastructure. We do have consultations among Allies on energy security but I think it's an EU business to improve or contribute to improve energy security. Of course a better energy security requires a reduced dependence on imported oil and gas from Russia, and, in general, a much more diversified supply of energy, which also includes the construction of new pipelines that can make Europe more independent. I will refrain from involving myself in discussions whether you should develop shale gas or not. I have met Allies who can report that Russia has engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organizations, environmental organizations working against shale gas, obviously to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.
Q13. Sylvia Hefsungmen (ph): Don’t you think you are driving terrorists from Afghanistan to other part of the world, especially in the Middle East, to reform and regroup again?
A13. Secretary General: We have to face the fact that the fight against international terrorism is more or less an enduring task. You may be right that, if we get rid of terrorist roots in one country, terrorist networks may move to other countries. So it just emphasizes how important it is to continue to develop a strong international cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
Q14. Ewan Grant (ph), independent consultant: Where do you see, in the new current situation, NATO relations with the European Union becoming perhaps deeper and more profound?
A14. Secretary General: I would appreciate seeing an even stronger cooperation between NATO and the European Union. We get along quite well on a daily basis when it comes to our interaction in theatres where we operate together, like in Afghanistan and Kosovo. We have also improved our cooperation on development of capabilities so that we can avoid duplication and waste of resources, and make the most efficient use of taxpayers' money. But when it comes to political consultation and cooperation, there is still an unused potential.
Q15. Jim Thursk (ph) from BFBS and Forces TV: The Financial Times this week, and indeed Lord Stirrup yesterday, talking to MPs, suggested actually Britain's defence expenditure is on course to fall below the two percent benchmark. How concerned are you by that?