The leaders agreed to enhance NATO’s military presence in the east, with four battalions in Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on a rotational basis – to be in place starting next year. The Secretary General welcomed that Canada will lead the battalion for Latvia, Germany will lead in Lithuania, the United Kingdom will lead in Estonia, and the United States will lead in Poland. He also commended other Allies for announcing contributions to these battalions, and thanked the host nations for their support. Allies further agreed to develop a tailored forward presence in the south-eastern part of the Alliance.
Leaders also decided to declare Initial Operational Capability of NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence. “This means that the US ships based in Spain, the radar in Turkey, and the interceptor site in Romania are now able to work together under NATO command and NATO control,” said Mr. Stoltenberg.
Leaders pledged to strengthen their own cyber defences, and recognised cyberspace as a new operational domain. “This means better protecting our networks and our missions and operations, with more focus on cyber training and planning,” the Secretary General said.
Leaders also reviewed and reconfirmed the importance of spending more and spending better on defence. The Secretary General welcomed that 2015 was the first year in many with a small increase in defence spending, and that estimates for 2016 show a further increase of 3%, or US $8 billion. “We still have a long way to go, but I believe that we have turned a corner,” he said.
The Secretary General stressed that “NATO poses no threat to any country,” and continues to seek constructive dialogue with Russia. Calling the NATO-Russia Council “an important tool to manage our relationship,” Mr Stoltenberg recalled that a new meeting of the NATO-Russia Council will be held at ambassadorial level in Brussels on 13 July.
NATO leaders will further discuss current security challenges this evening, joined by their counterparts from Finland and Sweden, and the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission.