Belgium: We 'strive for a better relationship with Russia' — Stoltenberg ahead of NATO meetings

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General: «NATO is a defensive alliance. What we do is proportionate and measured. And for many, many years after the end of the Cold War, NATO Allies reduced defence spending, reduced their military capabilities. And we tried to establish a partnership with Russia. Then we have seen, especially since 2014 with the illegal annexation of Crimea, with Russia being... Еще responsible for destabilising eastern Ukraine, we've seen a pattern where Russia is more assertive and where Russia has been responsible for violating international law. We are responding in a defensive, proportionate way. With some more military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance. Germany is part of that, leading one of the battlegroups in Lithuania. But at the same time, we strive for a better relationship with Russia. We don't want a new Cold War, we don't want a new arms race. And therefore we have what we call the dual-track approach to Russia: defence and dialogue. We have to be firm, we have to be predictable, but at the same time we will work for a better relationship and for dialogue with Russia.» NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the military alliance strives for a «better relationship» with Russia, in a doorstep statement at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, ahead of meetings of NATO Defence Ministers. When asked for a comment on the critique that NATO is turning more and more to old bloc thinking, Stoltenberg stated that NATO is a defensive alliance and Russia has been responsible for destabilising eastern Ukraine and has developed a pattern of «violating international law». The Secretary-General went on to say that despite this, NATO wishes to establish a better relationship with Russia, saying clearly: «We don't want a new Cold War, we don't want a new arms race.» He concluded that the military alliance has a dual defense and dialogue approach to Russia. Speaking about the liberation of Iraq and Syria from so-called Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIS, ISIL), Stoltenberg warned that the Islamic extremist group would still remain a threat even when they no longer hold any territory. In response to a request from the Iraqi government, NATO are expected to agree upon a new training mission in Iraq, to help «make Iraq safer» and «us more secure».


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