Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the first day of the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence

Joe Gould (Defense News): China wasn’t on the agenda as an agenda item, but did it come up indirectly? And what kind of progress was made towards addressing China in the Strategic Concept? And then a Russia question, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently toured the Black Sea region. Could we see a more muscular posture from NATO in that region, and what’s driving concerns there? Thank you.

Stoltenberg: Then the Black Sea. Well, of course, we have increased our presence in the Black Sea. Because the Black Sea is of strategic importance for NATO. Three NATO Allies are littoral states: Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, and then of course we have two very close partners, Georgia and Ukraine, and we have seen the illegal annexation of Crimea, and we have seen the aggressive behaviour of Russia in the Black Sea. So, we have increased our presence in the region, in the air, at land and at sea, and we are constantly assessing what more we can do, partly by increasing the presence but also partly by increasing our ability to quickly deploy forces if needed. And that’s exactly why we need high readiness of our forces.