Speech by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană in the spring session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
Vilnius, 30 May 2022
Photo by V. Chorna, Office of the Seimas
Thank you so much President Connolly. Best regards from Secretary General Stoltenberg. He's today with our Spanish Allies celebrating the 40th anniversary since Spain has joined our great Alliance.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends and colleagues, it is wonderful to see you all again in person. I was always delighted to engage with NPA Parliamentarians, our indispensable link to our democratic societies and essential partners to strengthen our incredible Alliance. Let me also extend a special thanks to our Lithuanian hosts. You have done an incredible job in organising this event. And I know that this can be very challenging, when I was President of the Senate in my home country of Romania and hosted something like this, not easy, congratulations. And President Connolly, thank you so much for your leadership, sir. Like always your thoughtful opening remarks for our meeting today is inspirational and carving the course ahead. Also, thank you for receiving me and my delegation in Washington, D.C. just a few days back, together with the Congressman Mike Turner, also, Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, thank you for the meeting we had yesterday.
One word about our host and great Allies, Lithuania. This is a steadfast NATO Ally. And you show solidarity for our shared security in so many ways. Not only through the media and humanitarian support you are providing to our highly valued partner, Ukraine. And thank you so much also to Yegor and the Ukrainian friends for the very powerful messages they sent all of us because indeed, the courage determination, bravery, heroism has a sense of destiny that Ukrainian people have shown, is an inspiration and a moral obligation for all of us to continue to help our partner Ukraine. I will also to say a word, and welcome, I look forward to the meeting with the speakers of Sweden and Finland. We all in NATO agree the NATO enlargement has been a historic success and NATO's door remains open. And Secretary General Stoltenberg has said we are confident that we will be able to address all Allies' security concerns and welcome NATO's closest partners Finland, Sweden, in our family of free nations. We salute the decision of our partners to join our great Alliance.
Dear colleagues, we meet at a pivotal moment for our security. President Putin's war against Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and shaken the entire international order. The bloodshed we thought Europe had banished to the history books is back. And Russia's brutality knows no bounds. It is destroying the lives and livelihoods of millions of Ukrainians. And it has lasting repercussions that threaten the peace and stability in Europe and beyond. Putin's war has triggered the largest humanitarian crises in Europe in decades. It threatens even greater humanitarian and food crisis well beyond Europe's borders. We must therefore also counter Moscow's narrative that sanctions are at fault. This is a lie. Sanctions are not the cause. Putin's war is and the perpetrators shoulder the full responsibility. It shows that the revisionist authoritarian regimes will not hesitate to use brute force to bring misery to others, to trample over the sovereign rights of other nations, and tear up the international order.
But Moscow's invasion is not going to plan. President Putin did not bank on the bravery of Ukrainian people, the capability of Ukrainian forces and the formidable support that we all have shown in front of this atrocious war. Ukraine can win this war and we must continue to do everything we can to help Ukraine uphold his right to self-defence enshrined in the UN Charter. Over many years, and in particular since Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. NATO and NATO Allies have trained tens of thousands of Ukrainian forces. Compared to 2014, Ukrainian forces are bigger, better led and better trained and equipped. And we see the difference this is making every day on the battlefield. In the last three months, we have significantly stepped up our support for Ukraine, providing billions of dollars of weapons and other assistance.
And we'd like to thank the national parliaments represented here for the indispensable role you played in making sure that we are up to the task. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your leadership in this very important moment of European history. We must continue to step up and sustain our military support. Building on the work of Ukraine Defence Contact Group under US leadership, enabling us to meet Ukraine's needs more rapidly in the crucial next weeks. In addition, airlines have imposed unprecedented sanctions to hinder Putin's war machine in close coordination with our partners in the European Union and joined by global partners from Switzerland to South Korea. We must be prepared to stay the course and sustain our efforts applying maximum pressure on President Putin to end this war and to do all we can to support Ukraine for the long haul.
Looking at our own societies, I think we can be proud of how us as political leaders, but especially our citizenry, our businesses, our civil society, have reacted. We are witnessing a re-galvanisation of our belief in democracy, freedom and open societies. I would like to thank every single citizen from our family of nations for the effort to host refugees to fundraise money like the superb fundraising Lithuania just the other day. Congratulations to the people of Lithuania, congratulations to the people of our great Alliance. This is who we are. And parliamentarians like you, you continue to have a key role in encouraging strategic patience. Public support for the long haul and unity amongst our ranks. Let there be no mistake Putin is putting our societal and democratic resilience to the test. Whenever and however, this war ends, its consequences will be long term and far reaching. Not only for Ukraine, but for all of us. Not only for all of us in the transatlantic family of democratic nations but for the rest of the world as well.
NATO's main responsibility is to protect and defend all Allies and every inch of Allied soil. So we have significantly stepped up our deterrence and defence. Since the start of the year, we have doubled the number of multinational battle groups from the Baltic to the Black Sea. We have now over 40,000 troops under direct NATO command backed by significant Air and naval assets. We have 100,000 troops on high alert, ready to respond to any aggression. At the Madrid Summit, our leaders will take important decisions to enhance our force posture further on the whole of the eastern flank. This is deterrence and removing any shadow of a doubt and leaving no room for misunderstanding or miscalculation in Moscow. Not to provoke conflict, but to prevent conflict and preserve peace. These actions built on the biggest adaptation of NATO's collective defence since the end of the Cold War. Following Russia's first invasion in Ukraine in 2014, we have deployed battlegroups in the eastern part of our Alliance I personally had the honour together with the President of the Republic of Lithuania to visit the German-led multinational battlegroup here in Lithuania just a few months back. We have increased the readiness of our forces and established new defence domains including space and cyberspace. We have invested massively modern capabilities and increased defence spending. European Allies and Canada have spent an additional 270 billion US dollars on defence since 2014. This is increasing, because 2% target is a baseline. Not a ceiling. For all of this, we have to thank all of you. And as with Ukraine it is essential that we continue to stay the course and invest in our security.
But Russia's invasion of Ukraine is part of a bigger picture of a drastically deteriorated security situation where authoritarian actors like Russia, but also China are openly challenging core principles for our security and undermining the rule based international order. So we must prepare for this new reality of growing strategic competition and increasingly complex security threats. I know you have been discussing the many different challenges we face over these past days. I look forward to the decisions you will take at the end of this Assembly. At our Summit in Madrid next month we will agree NATO's new Strategic Concept, our vision for keeping our 1 billion people safe in this more dangerous world. Let me thank this Assembly again for your active participation in the process, including the recommendations you presented to the Secretary General all of us in the North Atlantic Council. I look forward to see President Connolly with us in Madrid at the summit.
Our world has changed radically since our current Strategic Concept was agreed in 2010. The Euro-Atlantic area is no longer at peace. It is Russia under Putin that walked away from all international norms and agreements including the NATO Russia Founding Act. We must fully take account of existing and emerging challenges from climate change to cyber, an increased competition for technological dominance, and security impacts of China's coercive approach. Our new Strategic Concept is an important opportunity to reinforce NATO's core values and purpose, including our democratic resilience to strengthen NATO as the organising framework of our collective defence, to reset our deterrence and defence for the long term and enhance the resilience of our societies. And to work more closely with likeminded partners from the European Union to the Indo-Pacific. In essence, to defend our way of life, and to defend our values, and to defend our freedom, and to defend our rule of law, and to defend the rights of today's and tomorrow's generations of our societies together with Ukraine, to flourish and prosper under democracy and not live in closed societies. For all of this, we need a strategy but also the resources and capabilities to match our ambition.
To national defence spending I applaud the decision today in the German Bundestag for the fund to the Bundeswehr. To national defence spending, NATO's common funding is important. And especially in these trying and unpredictable times. We must match the level of political ambition that our leaders have set for ourselves and that is required of this great Alliance. More common funding helps us to exercise more together, to preposition equipment, and to ensure a better interoperability. And last but not least, we will uphold and I say it again, and will always say it, will uphold the values and principles that we hold dear.
Dear friends and colleagues. This is one of those moments in history. We are and we should continue to rise to the occasion and ensure that future generations can look back with pride and gratitude that we stood firm in defence of freedom, of rule of law, and rule based international order. I'm convinced that we will succeed and I'm convinced we will emerge more resilient. I'm confident that you'll be even more determined than ever before. So I continue to count on you as the voice of our one billion people, as the guardians of our democratic values. Your continued support for NATO sends the message a message heard loud and clear, of our unity, of our solidarity, of our strength. So thank you so very much. And like always we are deeply in gratitude for you. And these historic moments. This Assembly, Mr. President, is more relevant than ever, to the enduring success of the most successful Alliance in human history. Thank you all and I look forward to your questions.