JUST IN: NATO Head Warns U.S. Security at Risk if Russia Defeats Ukraine
With Russia continuing its unprovoked war in Ukraine and members of Congress at loggerheads over whether to provide additional military aid to the besieged nation, the head of NATO warned the United States that Russian victory in Ukraine will embolden other malign actors to threaten American interests.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary general, painted an ominous picture of “dangerous times” and global threats “seeking to undermine” opportunity and prosperity and trample global rules “that keep us safe,” speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Jan. 31.
While he called China “the most serious long-term challenge,” he said Russia is the “most immediate one.”
“Putin has brought war back to Europe on a scale not seen since the second World War,” he said, “and is developing new strategic weapons to threaten the United States and its allies.”
His war is not just about controlling Ukraine, Stoltenberg said — it’s about reestablishing Russia’s sphere of influence and shaping an alternative world order “where U.S. power is diminished, NATO is divided, and smaller democracies are forced to kneel.”
A message to Russia is also one to China, he said — “China is watching closely and supporting Putin. Let’s remember China and Russia are partners. Putin and Xi have signed an agreement of limitless partnership. Beijing has failed to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
Stoltenberg suggested the idea that Russia and China are separate challenges is “meaningless,” because China and Russia are “more and more aligned.”
“We don't have the luxury of saying we will only talk about China or Russia,” he said. “This is one part of the same challenge.”
Stoltenberg outlined three things the alliance must do to stand against both nations and any regime seeking to undermine the free world. The first: ensure robust deterrence, “not to start wars, but to prevent them and preserve peace. Any sign of wavering or weakness on our part will invite challenges from those who wish us harm,” he said.
As a result, NATO has implemented “the most robust collective defense since the Cold War,” he said. “We need to remain decisive and strong in our support to Ukraine. Make no mistake, that is where we are being tested right now. Ukraine must prevail. And it can but it needs our continued help.”
Stoltenberg used the point as an opportunity to defend U.S. criticism aimed at allies and partners’ contributions in Ukraine.
“Let me recognize the leading role of the United States in supporting Ukraine, not least in providing essential military aid,” he said. “At the same time, we should acknowledge that European allies and Canada also provide significant support to Ukraine.”
Stoltenberg said in terms of military, financial and humanitarian aid, what these allies provide “actually exceeds what the U.S. is providing.” Since the outbreak of the war, the United States has provided around $75 billion, while allies and partners have provided “over $100 billion,” and when measured as a share of gross domestic product, he said “most allies provide more than the United States.”
Stoltenberg’s speech was delivered on the heels of the Heritage Foundation’s president Kevin Roberts’ opening remarks, stating, “We will not support further funding for Ukraine unless it is military-only” and “matched efficiently by European nations.” Roberts also said while “we strongly condemn Vladimir Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, and certainly want the Ukrainians to win, our constitutional and moral obligations compel us to prioritize the interests of the American people. … And today, I want to be crystal clear… Heritage will not now, nor ever, support putting a foreign nation's border ahead of our own.”
Supporting Ukraine, Stoltenberg said, is “in America’s own interest. If we cannot stop Russia’s cycle of aggression in Europe, others will learn the lesson that using force against America’s interest works. ... The price for our security will go up.”
Senate Republicans seeking funding to secure the U.S. southern border blocked a procedural vote in December to advance a bill that would have provided aid to Ukraine and Israel. The future of U.S. aid to Ukraine remains uncertain as competing interests in Congress stall efforts for additional support.
Stoltenberg’s second point emphasized the link between Russia and China, saying, “We must organize ourselves for enduring competition with China,” including reduced reliance on Chinese raw materials and products.
His third and final point called for increased investment in defense spending, an area he said has been “rightly” criticized by the United States, but “is changing.”
Stoltenberg noted that over the last two years, NATO allies have agreed to purchase $120 billion worth of weapons from U.S. defense companies, including “thousands of missiles” by the United Kingdom, Finland and Lithuania, hundreds of Abrams tanks by Poland and Romania and hundreds of F-35 aircraft by “many European allied nations.”
“NATO is a good deal for the United States,” he said. “NATO is an incredibly powerful idea that advances U.S. interests and multiplies America’s power.” China and Russia have nothing like NATO, he said.
Topics: Global Defense Market