06 Apr 2014 By Anders Fogh Rasmussen – the Telegraph
Ukraine crisis shows that defence matters as much as ever. Every ally needs to invest in its armed forces, Nato's secretary-general warns in the Telegraph
Sixty-five years ago this month, Nato was born into a dangerous world. As the Soviet shadow deepened across Europe, 12 nations from both sides of the Atlantic committed to individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law determined to stand together to safeguard their security.
Those nations were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. They took the most solemn pledge that any country can take: an attack on one would be viewed as an attack on all.
Today’s Nato brings together a unique combination of the world’s strongest democracies with an integrated military structure, a permanent political decision-making process and a network of more than 40 partners from around the world. It is where Europeans and North Americans consult, decide and act every day on security issues that concern us all. We have learned much from the last 20 years of challenging operations, from Afghanistan to Kosovo, from Libya to the Horn of Africa. We are now more efficient and effective than at any time in Nato’s history.
We still live in a dangerous world, and the threats are more complex and unpredictable than 65 years ago. Some are new: cyber and missile attacks. Others are age-old: attempts to redraw borders by force. What has not changed is Nato’s commitment to our fundamental values and purpose. Our motto remains: all for one, one for all.
That solidarity is clear in our response to Russia’s illegal aggression against Ukraine and its continued breach of international law. Thanks to allies from both sides of the Atlantic, we have more than doubled the number of fighter aircraft policing the airspace of the Baltic States. We are patrolling the skies of Poland and Romania with Awacs early-warning aircraft and allies have boosted their presence in the Black Sea.
We are united in our determination to deter threats and to defend any ally at all times. We have strengthened our support for Ukraine and other partners in the region. And we have suspended cooperation with Russia; there can be no business as usual.
Nobody in Nato wants a return to the Cold War, but we see the Kremlin trying to turn back the clock and carve up Europe into new spheres of influence. We must stand up for our values, on which we have built a new and better Europe, and for the system of international rules that has underpinned prosperity and predictability.
This September we will hold a summit in Wales – a pivotal meeting at a pivotal time. We will make sure that we remain strong at home, active in managing crises, and engaged with our partners around the world.
Today’s crisis shows that defence matters as much as ever. So every ally needs to invest the necessary resources in the right capabilities. That means modern equipment, intensive training for our forces, and closer cooperation among Nato allies and with our partners. I know how challenging this is in today’s economic climate, but the security climate makes it vital.
In the long run, a lack of security would be more costly than investing now and we owe it to our forces, and to broader society. We all benefit from Nato’s protection; we all must be able to contribute to it. The alliance has kept us safe for 65 years. The bond between the democracies of North America and Europe remains the bedrock of our collective security. Nato has stood the tests of the past. We are ready to face the future.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen is the secretary general of Nato