In 2023, NATO air forces across Europe scrambled well over 300 times to intercept Russian military aircraft approaching Alliance airspace, with most intercepts occurring over the Baltic Sea. NATO has standing air-policing missions that calls for Allied jets to scramble when there are signs of Russian military planes approaching Allied airspace in unpredictable ways.
From 1 January 2024, the United Kingdom’s 7th Light Mechanised Brigade will lead NATO’s rapid reaction force, placing thousands of soldiers on standby and ready to deploy within days. NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) was created after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and was deployed for the first time for collective defence of the Alliance after Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The leadership position is rotated annually among Allies. The UK takes over from Germany, which led the force in 2023.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg released a holiday greeting to NATO troops and veterans on Wednesday (20 December 2023), thanking them for their service and commitment over the year. He said: “I had the privilege to meet many of you", telling Allied forces "without you there would be no NATO, no security and no freedom".
Finding the perfect gift can be stressful and time-consuming. Lucky for you, NATO has tips to help you find the right present for everyone on your list (spoiler alert: they’re all NATO-related). So without further ado, let’s unwrap!
NATO Deputy Secretary General meets EU diplomats, stresses the power of unity in tackling global challenges
NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană welcomed a group of 21 diplomats from 19 European Union member states in Brussels on Tuesday (19 December 2023). The diplomats are part of the European Diplomatic Academy, a training programme launched by the European External Action Service in 2022.
In 2023, photographers from NATO forces took thousands of pictures documenting this historic year. They captured the magnitude of landmark political events like the 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius, the grit and cooperation of Allied troops conducting NATO exercises, and other moments of beauty, unity and humanity. We chose four of our favourite photos and put them to a vote on social media, asking the public to choose NATO’s photo of the year for 2023. And the winner is...
NATO Deputy Secretary General concludes two-day visit to Paris to meet senior government and industry representatives
NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană concluded his two day visit to Paris on Friday (15 December 2023). In Paris, Mr Geoană engaged with French government officials and representatives from the private sector.
Symposium in Finland brings industry and experts together to strengthen NATO’s responses to hybrid threats
Allied experts and representatives met with industry at the NATO Hybrid Symposium in Helsinki, Finland to address the challenges posed by adversarial use of hybrid tools (12-13 December 2023). At the two-day event, members of NATO’s Counter Hybrid Support Teams (CHST) convened for a training session, boosting the Alliance’s ability to respond to challenges and strengthening cooperation in the hybrid community. The Symposium also had a session with private sector representatives, to look at further collaboration between NATO and the private sector.
On 14 December 2023, the NATO Military Committee held two different meetings with Partners to prepare and discuss the agenda for the upcoming Chiefs of Defence meeting, in January 2024.
NATO Secretary General with Prime Minister of Slovakia: support to Ukraine is not charity, it is an investment in our security
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fico to NATO Headquarters on Thursday (14 December 2023). Mr Stoltenberg praised Slovakia’s commitment to the Alliance, including hosting a multinational NATO battlegroup, deploying forces to Latvia, and planning to invest 2% of GDP in defence this year. They also discussed continued support to Ukraine and further bolstering the Alliance’s deterrence and defence.
NATO Secretary General holds talks with Prince Khalid bin Salman Al Saud, welcomes closer ties with Saudi Arabia
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke with the Defence Minister of Saudi Arabia, His Royal Highness Prince Khalid bin Salman Al Saud, during a visit to Riyadh on Wednesday (13 December 2023), welcoming the development of closer ties between NATO and the Kingdom.
Representatives from eight Iraqi professional military education institutions, led by Staff Lieutenant General Aqeel Mustafa Mahdi Al Rammah, President of the Iraqi Defence University for Military Studies, visited NATO Headquarters on 12 and 13 December 2023. The visit was part of the annual review of their defence education activities, within the framework of NATO’s Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP).
Allies agreed NATO’s civil and military budgets for 2024 at a meeting of the North Atlantic Council on Wednesday (13 December 2023). The civil budget is set at €438.1 million, and the military budget is set at €2.03 billion, representing a 18.2% and 12% increase respectively over 2023.
On 14 and 15 December, the NATO Deputy Secretary General, Mr Mircea Geoană, will travel to France.
Secretary General sets out vision for deeper NATO–Saudi Arabia cooperation in historic first visit to Riyadh
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg set out his vision for deeper cooperation between NATO and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in an historic visit to Riyadh – the first ever by a sitting Secretary General of NATO.
On Wednesday 13 December, senior representatives from across the Alliance gathered at NATO Headquarters in Brussels to hold the first meeting of the Defence Industrial Production Board. The Board is a key part of stepping up efforts for defence production - both to increase national capabilities for deterrence and defence, and to replenish the stockpiles that have been depleted by their support to Ukraine. A robust and flexible defence industry contributes to strengthening the Alliance’s deterrence and defence.
On Thursday, 14 December 2023, the NATO Secretary General, Mr Jens Stoltenberg, will receive the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Mr Robert Fico, at the NATO Headquarters.
On 12 and 13 December, the NATO Secretary General, Mr Jens Stoltenberg, will visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Representatives from Allied and partner countries met in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova from 5 to 7 December 2023 to exchange views on defence capacity building programmes to support several NATO's partners, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iraq, Jordan, Mauritania, Moldova, and Tunisia.
Bi-annual Familiarization Programme illustrates NATO’s desire for stronger cooperation with partners
From 6 to 15 December 2023, NATO hosts 30 military personnel from 23 Partner Nations for its bi-annual Familiarization Programme. The 8-day event, jointly organised by NATO’s Cooperative Security Division and SHAPE’s Partnership Directorate Military Cooperation Division, provides Partner military representatives with an opportunity to explore the Alliance’s outreach programmes and activities.
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