tv NATO Secretary General on Russia- Ukraine Tensions CSPAN January 29, 2022 12:14am-1:00am EST
tensions between russia and ukraine continue to be high. he outlined nato's commitment to its member countries. 8500 u.s. troops are prepared to deploy. the atlantic council is the host of this event. it is 45 minutes. l of our viewers in europe and to viewers all over the world. i am frederick kempe, president and ceo of the atlantic council. i am pleased to welcome you to this edition of frontpage. our platform for leaders tackling the challenges of our times. today's atlantic council frontpage is a particularly timely and significant one. we are joined by nato secretary-general jens stoltenberg from brussels. this is the secretary-general's first live interview since nato and the u.s. delivered written responses to moscow's security
demands of december appeared as he leads the alliance. secretary-general jens stoltenberg, we are honored as always to welcome you back to the atlantic council, nato's home in washington, d.c. the potential conflict is present more than any time since the cold war. it is a threat not only to the territorial integrity of that country, it is a direct assault on international norms of sovereignty and self-determination. the stakes are generational. at this crucial moment, we are eager to hear the secretary-general's perspective on this crisis in ukraine. how nato is responding. the implications for the new nato strategic concept and what is next for the alliance itself. to moderate today's discussion, we are delighted to welcome margaret brennan, a foreign
affairs correspondent and the moderator of face the nation. to our audience, thank you from joining us all over the world for this important discussion. it is a continuation of the robust and multifaceted atlantic council coverage of the crisis. please visit our website atlantic council.org for expert analysis and breaking commentary. we are broadcasting live on zoom as well as the councils website, youtube, twitter and facebook accounts. i encourage all of you watching to join the conversation on social media using the #acfrontpage and #nato. and now margaret, over to you. >> thank you so much, fred. and good morning to everyone watching if your stay sector good afternoon to you, mr.
secretary-general. i don't really need to introduce you, but, of course, for anyone watching, jens stoltenberg is the secretary general of nato and has been since october 2014, following a distinguished international and domestic career, including as prime minister of norway and u.n. special envoy on climate change. but now i would say, mr. secretary, you have a tremendous challenge in front of you at this moment. we have heard from russia in the public communications so far that what nato and the united states put on the table did not address the chief security concerns. russia's forces continue to build in the region. at this can nato deter a russian point, invasion of ukraine, or is your aim silly to contain the conflict from becoming a regional war? >> our aim of course is to convey a clear message to russia and that is exactly what we are doing. that if they use military force against ukraine, it will have severe consequences.
nato allies are ready to impose heavy economic sanctions, political, financial sanctions. nato provides support to ukraine. we helped ukraine with modernizing their defense and security institutions and nato allies provide training with this equipment. so ukraine can also impose costs on russia if they once again invade ukraine. and then thirdly and most important for nato allies, it is of course that we're also ready to step up our major presence in eastern part of the alliance to prevent any misunderstanding or report miscalculation about nato's ability and to protect and defend all allies. we are ready to do three things. we are sending a message of sanctions, a high price to pay, we are supporting ukraine and,
of course, and conveying an absolutely unwavering commitment to all nato allies. >> but have you seen any concrete indications to date the russia is backing down? >> what we have seen is i continued military buildup, and, of course, have something we follow very closely. we are deploying more troops, more heavy equipment and now thousands of combat troops to belarus, also with aircraft, helicopters and advanced weapons systems. so the military buildup continues. at the same time, russia was willing to meet us, the united states and nato allies a couple of weeks ago, and that's a good sign. that we sat down in the same room and for hours addressed the
situation in and around ukraine and security council for all of us, for europe. but also, that we have now conveyed our written proposals how we believe it is possible to , find common ground on everything from arms-control to military activities, lines of communication between nato allies and russia, and now russia has to assess these proposals and we are ready to sit down with them when they are ready to continue the efforts to find a diplomatic political solution. >> the foreign minister said they could take the next two weeks to continue talking. do you think you have that kind of time? >> so we have that time, as long as russia does not once again decide to use military force.
[indiscernible] >> well, there is no certainty about the plans, maybe they have not made a final decision. from the nato side, we are ready to engage in political dialogue but also ready to respond if russia chooses an armed conflict, confrontation. we are ready for both options. so we're working hard for the best peaceful political solution, but also prepared for the worst. russia once again using force against the neighbor ukraine. >> in terms of preparing for the worst, you said earlier this week that the nato response force, which is about 5000, could be deployed within days. given the wide array of potential actions that russia could take, exactly what is the threshold for their deployment? have the allies agreed on exactly what would trigger that?
>> first of all, the nato response force is only of the elements in what we do to provide credible deterrence, and especially those allies east of the alliance. we have already after russia used force against ukraine in 2014, for the first time in our history, deployed battle groups and nato battle groups in the eastern part of the alliance in the baltic countries and poland. we have air policing both in the black sea region and in the baltic region. we have more naval presence. i know the last weeks we have stepped up the number of tanks and ships in the different missions. then we have the nato response force, the total amount of troops there is around 40,000, but the lead element of the nato response force is exact as you say, around 5000.
that is a political decision. we will assess, make our decisions when we see any need to further increase the presence in the east. either by deploying the whole or elements of the nato response force, depending on what the situation is and/or we also considered to deploy or to have battle groups not only in baltic countries and in poland as we have now, but also france, united kingdom and all the allies. also indicating a willingness to have battle groups in the black sea region and the nato command as part of our nato presence. for instance, now we have for the first time in decades, we have u.s. aircraft carrier on the nato command and we have more naval and air assets in the region available, if needed. >> in terms of the quick response, the response portion
you talked about, the 5000, it is currently led by france with allied troops in it. are you concerned politics will complicate the willingness to respond? you said it was a political decision to deploy them. are you concerned? >> france is a nato ally. france has high-end capabilities. france has demonstrated over many years it can deploy forces if needed and to engage in difficult conflict and many challenging situations. i am confident that france and the lead elements of the nato response force will be ready to deploy if needed. at the same time, we are
pursuing a diplomatic attack because the best solution would be to prevent an intervention into ukraine. >> of course. >> strong messages of severe consequences and a high price to pay. we have seen an increase support to ukraine. candida announced -- the ukrainian army is much better trained, much better equipped and much more ready now than they were in 2014. >> ukraine can defend itself. incredible use of force behind it. that is why i am asking you about that decision. does it have to be put to a vote
among allies? do you know what the threshold is that would get all allies to agree to use the response force? >> we would never give a potential adversary the privilege of finding out the potential of what we would do. we will always be sure we have the necessary forces in the right place at the right time to defend and protect all allies. the strongest alliance in history by standing together based on the principles of attacking one ally, it will trigger the response of the whole alliance. preventing an attack, the nato response force, the eastern part of the alliance, increased naval and air presence.
also, the fact that the united states in the last months and years has increased its nato presence in europe, which has added to the strength of nato in europe. >> president biden put on notice 8500 u.s. troops. as made clear at the state department yesterday, the u.s. can sometimes move more quickly according to the state department. that is why the u.s. is talking to countries about unilaterally sending in troops. does that send the message that america is looks to to be that first, quick reaction force rather than nato? do you support this kind of unilateral action? >> bringing the allies together and coordinate efforts.
sometimes they do that with their capabilities with battle agreements. sometimes this is done within the nato framework. nato allies protecting each other. nato is in the region. there are assets on the ground, the baltic region, we have air and sea capabilities with nato forces that have received more ships from spain, denmark, planes from the netherlands, also from denmark and other countries. we have the force that can be deployed within days. we have increased the readiness. we did that several weeks ago. they are prepared to deploy quickly.
on top of that, we have mission capabilities not only from the guide states, but from other allies. >> are you saying that other countries the u.s. are talking to do not need unilateral support from drive states, that nato forces are sufficient at present? >> we are coordinating closely what to do as nato and what individual nato allies are doing together. most importantly, the totality of that delivers the necessary defense. we will assess the need to adjust our presence in the black sea region. we have increased our ability to quickly move into the region if needed. we have las like -- we have
allies like france, the united states, adding more national forces. we are coordinating very closely with all allies, together as allies and on the bilateral level. the aircraft carrier which was originally under u.s. command, is now under nato command. the most important thing is we have those capabilities. >> there has been a lot of reporting about differences of opinion between allies, particularly the willingness of france and germany to use force in the same way that the u.s. and united kingdom might be more willing to act. do you believe you can deal with
those kind of divisions, and you have agreements. agreements on what the threshold for action would be. >> these troops that we deploy in romania, the black sea region , in the baltic region, they are there to defend nato allies. that is a 100% guarantee from all allies, including germany and france. france is also part of the alliance, and france has been willing to add more troops. this is about defending a two allies.
article 5 to defend all allies. that is enshrined in the treaty. we have been committed to that for more than 70 years. support to ukraine, which is not a nato ally but a nato partner. there are some differences between allies. i do not try to hide that, but that is a different thing, a commitment to protect and defend all allies. we talk about the data response force, air and sea presence and forces, no doubt. there are some differences,
providing military equipment. nato provides something as an alliance. helping to modernize security institutions, share information and so on. the united states, canada and united kingdom are providing weapon systems to ukraine. it is important to distinguish those two tasks. support ukraine, yes, important. the commitment to defend allies, that is our core task, and france is part of that. >> what i hear you saying is the intention of deployment -- regional conflict that would affect your members, not to deter russia from attacking a country that is not a partner, is that correct? >> we are not planning to deploy
nato combat troops to ukraine. >> neither is united states, president biden has made that clear. that has been one of the criticisms. going back to 2014, the united states and nato were not willing to use force to deter aggression and annexation of territory from nato partners. vladimir putin saw that and he knows there is a willingness to not use force to stop him. why should he take nato seriously now? >> because our main task is to support allies. not america and europe. that is our core task. defend and deter any attack
against nato allies. i am sure president putin takes nato seriously and our ability to defend all allies. when it comes to ukraine, i am absolutely certain russia understands they will have to pay a high price. the use force against ukraine in 2014 and we posted sanctions and have stepped up our support on sanctions for the use of force against ukraine. we have brought support to ukraine, stepped up that. if russia wants less nato edits borders, they will have achieved the opposite.
they would have even more nato at their borders. that is the price for russia. they will have consequences if they violate national law, invade another country. the consequences are different if they invade ukraine as opposed to a nato ally. it is important to understand the differences. >> as you know, french president macron said two years ago that he thought nato was brain-dead. do you think vladimir putin has unintentionally succeeded at giving you no purpose in revitalizing the alliance. >> in an unpredictable, unstable and dangerous world, it is even
more important that we stand together and protect each other. we need strong institutions as nato and the time of uncertainty. we have demonstrated that during the cold war. we demonstrated that when nato helped to end wars in the 1990's. we demonstrated that when nato allies helped the united states in afghanistan after 9/11. now, the aggressive actions of russia against ukraine and the need for 100% security guarantees of nato allies. we have been able to be united and change when the world is changing and that is what we are doing now. >> you mentioned cyber. the ukrainian government is
clear they expect a cyberattack. you said a few years ago, a cyberattack on a member state would trigger a defense clause. how do you plan to handle a russian cyberattack on a nonmember state? ukraine said russia already carried out and attack in the last few weeks. is that right below nato's threshold to do more to respond? >> article 5 in response to an attack -- >> that is why i am asking you. >> we can help them with their cyber defenses. nato allies brought significant support to ukraine, both to cyber defenses and to share information and to share best
practices. we signed an agreement where we step up and create the framework for more support, helping them with their cyber defenses. in general, the message is that we have decided that an attack in cyberspace can trigger article 5 and we would need to respond. it can be in cyberspace and another domain. that is up for nato to decide. >> let me ask the question another way. when russia carried out a cyberattack in 2017 and ukraine, it has a global impact on countries around the world. it did impact countries beyond the target of ukraine. is that kind of scenario something you are thinking about now?
if russia attacks ukraine and that affects your member states, what should nato do? >> it is extremely important that we are prepared for cyber attacks and the consequences as we saw some years ago when ukraine was attacked. there were consequences for many other countries all around the world. this is part of our cyber defenses, it is about improving the way we share information about cyber attacks and improve the way we attribute. challenges with cyber attacks ar e those behind them often deny they are behind cyberattack's. it is hard to identify who is behind some of the main challenges we are working on as nato allies to respond to
cyberattacks. also, nato allies increased our ability to provide the ability to push back in cyberspace if needed. going too far in speculating because we are trying to reduce tensions and convince russia to sit down and engage in talks to prevent these kinds of scenarios so we can find a political solution. >> there are people standing by to ask questions to put a fine point on what you said. do you disagree with ukraine's assessment that russia carried out the cyberattack two weeks ago or are you just saying you do not want to answer that question? >> we are very much aware that
russia has been responsible for cyberattacks before and they can be responsible again. as a first step precursor to a military attack, cyberattacks are a likely scenario. an invasion with troops, all the stuff lined up around the borders of ukraine. for russia to conduct a cyberattack, the government in kiev, intelligence officers working inside ukraine as we speak. we need to be prepared for a wide range of actions by russia against ukraine. >> mr. secretary general, we
strategy concept from this experience? >> i am very much looking forward to attending the nato summit in madrid in june, the spanish government and the people of spain will be great posts, and that is -- great hosts, and that is something i look forward to. as you said, we will agree to a strategic concept of nato. the last tommy did that was 10 years ago. the world has changed so much, we need to update the strategic concept of nato. the concept will cover many issues. the most important lesson we can learn from all these events you mentioned is the importance of
north america and nato coming together. cyberspace terrorism, security consequences of china, it is important we have north america and nato together. when we stand together, we represent 50% of the world's economic might. that is important. it is good for the united states to have friends and allies. sometimes they are concerned about the size of china. if you add nato allies, we are really big together.
nato and europe together. >> thank you. we will move to our next question. if you would introduce yourself and ask her question now. >> good afternoon, secretary-general. i lead an organization in ukraine. thank you for the opportunity to ask a question. in your opinion, is it possible to change the narrative about nato and ukraine? the reality is the ukrainian people -- [indiscernible]
russia sees the situation differently. the ukrainian people approach it any differently right now? >> nato has never and will never force any country into the alliance. our door is open, but we would never force anyone into that door. it has taken place over many decades. it is a democratic decision by the people in free nations. in a sense, the will of the people in the nations who decided to join our alliance.
that was the case when nato was founded in 1949 and has been the case for each country, from spain, to poland, the baltic countries. it is so obvious that people who tell a different story are not telling the truth. the fact is that countries have become members of nato through independent decisions. >> thank you. the next question. >> thank you. it is an honor. i am an assistant director.
for some, the crisis in ukraine could feel like a far off possibility. what would you say to americans about nato's goals in the world, not just managing the conflict with russia but what nato means to american communities? >> i think that two world wars and the cold wars, peace and stability is not only good for europe, but the united states. nato as been important for european allies. it is also extremely important for the united states. security is the basis for
prosperity. for ordinary americans, it is extremely important that nato is the foundation for peace and stability and our part of the world. this has been demonstrated for decades and after 9/11. we gathered our defenses, tens of thousands of european, canadian personnel have served shoulder to shoulder with americans in afghanistan in response to the attack on the united states. when it comes to china, china will soon have a bigger economy than the united states. china will have the biggest economy in the world. technologies like artificial intelligence, they will have the
biggest navy in the world. compared to china, it is a great advantage for the united states to have something that no other major power has, friends and allies. it is good to have friends, it is good to have allies and that is exactly what the united states has in nato and that is why nato is important for people in the united states. >> mr. secretary general, a question coming in from someone watching at home, in a worst-case situation, should russia attack ukraine, could there be, in theory, countries like sweden and finland should they wish to join nato? >> nato respects decisions by independent nations. we respect them if they apply
for membership, but also if they decide not to apply. we respect the decision that finland and sweden have taken so far not to apply for membership. finland and sweden are our closest partners. we can operate together, even though they are not nato members. i spoke with the swedish prime minister and then made it clear they are not applying for membership but for them it is absolutely unacceptable what russia now demands that nato should close the door forever for every potential member. the freedom to choose nato membership if they so want. every nation can choose its own
path. if they decide to apply, then i think it is possible to make a decision quickly and for them to join quickly. at the end of the day, this has to be a political decision, but when you see the high level between -- when you see to the degree the nato standards, it should be possible to allow them into our alliance quite quickly. >> we have time for just one more question. there is speculation that russia will disrupt the olympics in china. can you explain how nato sees the relationship between russia and china? >> first of all, we have
intelligence about what is going up in ukraine. we also see the track record of russia being a force against ukraine before. at the same time, we have conveyed there will be a high price for russia to pay if they do so. we are pursuing a diplomatic path with ukraine for our written proposals. i will not speculate. i will tell you we are prepared both for a scenario where russia invades, or a scenario where they decide to sit down and engage in talks with nato and nato allies. >> you do not see coordination between the two countries? >> what we see is russia and china are becoming closer and
closer. they exercise together, they operate together, they stand together, for instance, more and more in the u.n. security counsel. they are regimes that do not share our values when it comes to democracy. that adds to the concern that these countries are becoming closer and closer both when it comes to military and political cooperation and they crackdown on democratic opposition in their respective countries. all of us believe in democracy and the freedom of press. we need to stand together and that makes nato even more important in a time where we see regimes stepping up. it is even more important that
we stand together as nato, both when it comes to -- our diplomatic efforts to find political solutions and engage, ukraine, arms control. nato is ready for dialogue. especially with the challenges china and russia pose. >> mr. secretary general, thank you for your time. that concludes our front event today. thank you for being with us during what is an incredibly busy time for you. the atlantic council's programming will continue to follow this an end around ukraine. that will continue in about 15
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