World, Europe

NATO chief warns against trading security for economic interests

War in Ukraine underlines risks of being dependent on Russia, China, says alliance chief

Agnes Szucs   | 24.05.2022
NATO chief warns against trading security for economic interests


Valuing fleeting economic concerns over the need for long-term security is a bad bargain, warned the chief of the NATO military alliance on Tuesday.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said one of the most important lessons from the ongoing war in Ukraine is that “we should not trade long-term security needs for short-term economic interests.”

“Freedom is more important than free trade, protecting values are more important than profits,” he argued, contending that the war in Ukraine exposed the pitfalls of forging economic ties with authoritarian regimes.

Stoltenberg acknowledged that international trade can bring great prosperity but warned that “our economic choices have consequences for our security.”

“This is about Russia, but also about China,” he said, alluding to arguments that letting Russia win in Ukraine could encourage Chinese aggression.

The resilience of NATO countries can be undermined by “overreliance on the import of commodities, like energy” and “exporting advanced technologies like artificial intelligence” that risk ceding control of critical infrastructure like 5G technology, he warned.

“Russia’s brutal invasion” of Ukraine came as no surprise, he said.

Calling it “one of the best-predicted acts of military aggression ever,” he said NATO warned about the Russian military buildup in and around Ukraine months before the war actually began on Feb. 24.

According to Stoltenberg, the move fit in with Moscow’s pattern of using “military force to achieve its political aims” as it did with the “destruction of Groznyy (in Chechnya), the (2008) invasion of Georgia, the (2014) annexation of Crimea, (and) the bombing of Aleppo” in Syria.

NATO is doing everything to prevent the war from spreading to NATO territory by providing military aid, support, and training for Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia, as well as by reinforcing the presence on NATO’s eastern flanks, he said.

Stoltenberg also said NATO leaders are expected to approve at their June summit a new strategic concept that addresses the challenges of the modern security environment, as well as greenlight strengthening the long-term defense and deterrence posture in the eastern part of the Alliance.

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