Jens Stoltenberg said he does not want a Cold War with Russia
President Donald Trump has repeatedly hinted he may withdraw US support for NATO altogether, calling it “obsolete” and a waste of American taxpayers’ dollars.
But with Russia-NATO relations at an all time low, American support for the military alliance is vital when Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia fear an attack by Vladimir Putin’s troops.
NATO General Secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, said: “NATO does not want confrontation with Russia. We don’t seek confrontation with Russia. We don’t want a new Cold War so our response is measured.
Donald Trump has stemmed fears the US will leave NATO
NATO does not want confrontation with Russia. We don’t want a new Cold War so our response is measured
NATO General Secretary, Jens Stoltenberg
“It is transparent and it is defensive. But it sends a clear signal that we stand together. That all Allies are ready to protect each other. Defending one another.”
Relations between the West and Moscow have deteriorated since Russia's occupation in Ukraine along with growing tensions over the war against the barbaric Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.
In direct response, thousands of US troops arrived in Poland last month to defend NATO borders and to reassure the alliance’s Eastern European allies.
However it appears Donald Trump is attempting to tighten relations with Mr Putin by hinting he may lift sanctions against Moscow for its military backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
NATO: Things you need to know
Tue, January 24, 2017
NATO – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4th April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
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One of the world’s major international institutions. It is a political and military Alliance of 28 member countries from Europe and North America. Photo shows: View of leaders of NATO, 1960.
Jens Stoltenberg meets Theresa May
But this has been overshadowed by Mr Trump’s repeated threats to pull America out of NATO.
Mr Stoltenberg was keen to give assurances, and said: “I spoke with then President-elect Donald Trump after he was elected in November and I’ve also spoken with Secretary of Defense Mattis recently.
“They have all conveyed the same message that United States will remain committed to NATO to the Trans-Atlantic bond and that it’s not only something that they say but we also see now that the United States is actually increasing its presence in Europe.”
Most recently, the President Trump demanded Brussels abandon plans for an EU army if it wants the US to continue support for NATO.
The defence alliance already relies heavily on Washington for around three-quarters of its funding.
Relations between Moscow and Washington were previously fraught
In Europe, many still do not meet the two per cent of GDP target set by Nato – although Britain does.
The collapse of NATO would see vital US funding for Europe's defence dry up, handing Mr Putin carte blanche to increase military action to the east.
However Mr Stoltenberg said Mr Trump’s open dialogue with Mr Putin was based on “strengthening” the Western alliance.
He added: “We don’t want confrontation, we don’t want a new Cold War so we are keeping the channels for political dialogue open with Russia and the message from the incoming administration is that, the new US Administration, is that they also want dialogue with Russia but it’s based on strength.
“I think that’s exactly the same message that we are conveying from the whole Alliance and we agreed in Warsaw at our Summit that we need strong defence but also political dialogue with Russia and I look forward to work together with the new President and his security team on exactly … on how to implement and how to follow up that message.”