NATO Defence Ministers concluded two days of talks in Brussels on Thursday (4 October 2018), focused on further adapting and strengthening the Alliance in response to an increasingly assertive Russia and continued instability in the South.
Burden-sharing was a topic of discussion at the Ministerial meeting. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Alliance is “making progress”, adding “this will be the fourth consecutive year of rising defence spending”. Now that all Allies have committed to national plans, the Secretary General said he expects the national plans “to show real increases in defence spending year on year, and a realistic path to 2% of GDP on defence.”
In their discussion on NATO’s strengthened deterrence and defence, Ministers addressed concerns about Russia’s pattern of behaviour and the future of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Mr. Stoltenberg said that Russia’s new missile system “is destabilising” and poses “a serious risk to our security”. “We call on Russia to address our serious concerns”, he added.
Ministers were briefed about a foiled Russian military intelligence service cyber operation against the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Hague (the Netherlands). The Secretary General referred to “Russia’s indiscriminate campaign of cyber-attacks around the world” and said that “in response, NATO will continue to strengthen its defence and deterrence in the cyber domain”. Mr. Stoltenberg thanked several Allies for offering their cyber capabilities to NATO. These will make NATO “as strong in cyberspace as we are on land, at sea and in the air”, he said.
The discussion on deterrence and defence also touched on NATO’s response to instability on its southern borders, in particular the new training mission in Iraq and NATO’s continued support to partner countries to improve their defence and security capabilities.
Ministers were joined by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and representatives from Finland and Sweden for a discussion on NATO-EU cooperation in the areas of cyber defence, military mobility, countering hybrid threats, and capacity building in the Middle East and North Africa.