NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Tuesday (15 April 2014) that the Ukraine crisis has amplified the need to strengthen cooperation between NATO, the European Union and with close partners. “We need to train and exercise more together, for instance the NATO Response Force and the EU Battlegroups, so that we stand ready for whatever the future may bring,” the Secretary General said arriving for EU Defence Ministers talks in Luxembourg.
The Secretary General discussed the crisis in Ukraine with the EU defence ministers. He expressed his deep concern over the continued violence by small groups of separatists and Russia’s continued military pressure on Ukraine’s border. “I call on Russia to de-escalate the crisis, to pull back its troops from Ukraine’s borders, to stop de-stabilizing the situation in Ukraine, and make clear that it doesn’t support the violent actions of pro-Russian separatists,” he said. “Russia should stop being part of the problem, and start being part of the solution.”
The EU ministers were informed by Mr. Fogh Rasmussen about what measures NATO has already taken and will take to further strengthen collective defence at sea, in the air and on land. “These measures will follow three tracks; re-enforced defence plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deployments,” he said. The Secretary General will also hold talks with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg and Mr. Marc Angel, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee of the Luxembourg Parliament, while in the Grand Duchy.
In talks with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg, the Secretary General thanked the Prime Minister for his country’s strong commitment to the Alliance, noting contributions to missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan and vital funding to support the Afghan Security Forces. He also commended Luxembourg’s support to projects to develop military capabilities. “As we prepare for our Wales Summit in September, we have to ensure that we continue to invest in our security,” said Mr. Fogh Rasmussen. “Every Ally has a part to play in this effort. NATO keeps us all secure and we must all continue investing to keep NATO strong. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine shows that we cannot simply take our security for granted.” The Secretary General also met with Mr. Marc Angel, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee of the Luxembourg Parliament and members of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee for a wide-ranging discussion on the Ukraine crisis and the agenda of the Wales Summit in September.