NATO talks on Ukraine and Afghanistan

During the course of yesterday and today, NATO Ministers of Defence held talks in Brussels about the situation in Ukraine and a number of other subjects. These were the first meetings of this kind since the Ukraine crisis started.

NATO has taken a raft of measures in response to the Russian activities in the Crimea and in eastern Ukraine to reassure its eastern Member States. The Netherlands is contributing to these so-called reassurance measures by carrying out air-to-air refuelling of AWACS radar aircraft and by sending a Royal Netherlands Navy minehunter to carry out patrols in the Baltic Sea.

Plea for transparency

Netherlands Minister of Defence Hennis received support from NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen for her call for more transparency regarding military shortfalls and surpluses within NATO. Most of the information about the shortages or surpluses of military means among Member States is currently classified. Hennis wants NATO Member States to disclose their information.

The Ministers also discussed the agenda for the NATO summit in Wales. Two topics that will certainly be on the agenda are the role and the future of NATO and Defence spending in the various Member States. Secretary-General Rasmussen once again pointed out the necessity of increasing Defence budgets.

Currently, only 4 Member States comply with the 2% norm. The Netherlands will reach 1.15% in 2017. Hennis pointed out that NATO should not be solely fixated on the 2% financial norm, saying that risk-sharing is also an important factor in the whole. "How often armed forces are actually deployed and how risk is spread among member states must also be taken into account", remarked Hennis.