NATO Leaders Stress Unity at Conclusion of Defense Ministerial

The secretary emphasized that the United States’ commitment to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty establishing the alliance in 1949 — an attack on one nation is an attack on all — is “ironclad.” He echoed President Joe Biden’s words that this commitment is “a sacred obligation” to the U.S. government.

Deterring Russia is a focus of NATO, and the defense ministers approved a number of initiatives to improve the readiness and availability of forces and capabilities.

But the global security environment is changing, and the wind of changes blows from the east. China – while not a focus of any one part of the NATO ministerial – is a concern to the nations of the alliance.

“Regarding China, let me just say … that alliances like NATO are one of our greatest strengths,” Austin said.

The 30 nations of the alliance have concerns about China’s disturbing activities in the past, and Austin mentioned the 2019 Summit where the leaders agreed to address the risks posed by China.

“When we address this whole new security environment with new threats and new challenges, of course, part of that picture is China.”

China is modernizing its military capabilities, including advanced nuclear systems and long-range missile systems, and this concerns NATO allies as well as nations in the Indo-Pacific, Stoltenberg said.