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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg launches his Annual Report for 2022.

| 2023

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday, 21 March 2023, launched his annual report for 2022, covering all aspects of the Alliance’s work over the past year.
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Jens Stoltenberg said that President Putin “wanted less NATO, but he has got exactly the opposite: more NATO” (Picture source: NATO)

As Russia’s war on Ukraine enters its second year, Mr Stoltenberg praised the “steely resistance of the Ukrainian people” and NATO Allies’ “unprecedented support for Ukraine”. He said that President Putin “wanted less NATO, but he has got exactly the opposite: more NATO”, underlining that Finland and Sweden’s accession “will make them safer, our Alliance stronger, and demonstrate that NATO’s door remains open” .

“Putin’s invasion was a shock, but it was not a surprise”, Mr. Stoltenberg said, calling it “the culmination of a pattern of aggressive action”. He added that since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO has implemented the largest reinforcement of our collective defence in a generation. “So when Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, we were ready,” he said. “Within hours, we activated our defence plans from the Baltic to the Black Sea. We put 40,000 troops under NATO command, with a significant air and maritime presence, and doubled the number of NATO battlegroups from four to eight.” Mr Stoltenberg added that NATO Allies have provided Ukraine with significant support, including advanced weapons systems and ammunition.

To maintain support for Ukraine while protecting the Alliance, Allies are also in the process of agreeing new capability targets for the production of battle-decisive ammunition, and engaging with industry to ramp up production. NATO is also increasing protection of critical national infrastructure, including undersea cables and pipelines, notably through the establishment of an Undersea Infrastructure Coordination Cell and a joint NATO-EU Task Force.

Mr Stoltenberg underlined that at the 2022 Madrid Summit, Allies adopted a new Strategic Concept, which identifies Russia as the most significant threat to security, alongside terrorism, and makes clear the challenges that China poses to the Alliance.

The Secretary General welcomed that 2022 was the eighth consecutive year of increased defence spending across Europe and Canada, amounting to a 2.2% rise in real terms and a total of $350 billion extra since 2014. “We are moving in the right direction, but we are not moving as fast as the dangerous world we live in demands,” he said, adding that “it is obvious that we need to do more, and we need to do it faster.” Mr Stoltenberg said he expected Allies to agree with an ambitious new defence investment pledge at the Vilnius Summit in July, with 2% of GDP as a minimum to be invested in defence.

Defense News March 2023

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