“NATO remains open to engaging with Russia in good faith,” Stoltenberg said Thursday at the Defense Ministerial in Brussels. “Allies are ready to sit down with Russia in the NATO-Russia Council [to] address a wide range of issues and find the common ground.”
U.S. Defense Secretary and a 2022 Wash100 awardee Lloyd Austin and other NATO defense ministers held meetings with their counterparts from Ukraine, Georgia, Sweden, Finland and other European Union member countries over Russia, which has fielded 150,000 troops to its borders with Ukraine.
Stoltenberg also highlighted the importance of alliance cooperation to counter Russian aggression.
“Russian actions are part of a larger pattern of growing strategic competition, increasing hybrid threats, and pervasive instability,” Stoltenberg said. “These can only be tackled successfully if we work together.”
In his remarks Wednesday, Stoltenberg said European allies and Canada increased their defense spending for the seventh consecutive year, reflecting additional defense spending of approximately $270 billion since 2014.
He noted that NATO welcomed the move of most allies to appropriate at least 20 percent of defense investment for research and development efforts and major equipment.