Relations with Russia at “lowest point” for many years, says NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

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Relations between the West and Russia are at their “lowest point” for many years, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

He was speaking as he arrived at NATO headquarters in Brussels for a key meeting with US President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders.

Stoltenberg told reporters: “The relationship between NATO and Russia is at a low point, the lowest point since the end of the Cold War,”

He also expressed concern about China’s “military buildup, growing influence and coercive behavior” which, he said, “also poses a challenge.”

On Sunday, G7 leaders also criticized China for its human rights violations and unfair economic practices and, in a joint statement, said, “We will promote our values, including calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular with regard to Xinjiang and these rights, freedoms and a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong ”,

In a brief press conference, Stoltenberg said the NATO meeting comes at a “pivotal moment” for the alliance, adding that he hopes it will agree “to an ambitious agenda to strengthen our defense and refine our technological advance “.

Climate change and security will also be on the agenda, he said. The NATO summit is also expected to address security issues in space and cyberspace.

“The relationship between NATO and Russia is at its lowest, the lowest point since the end of the cold war” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Stoltenberg warned: “But we also need to fund which is our high level of ambition, so we need to invest more.” He added that there had been seven consecutive years that defense spending had increased, which had added an additional $ 260 billion.

“I am confident that the decisions we make today will send a strong message of unity and determination.”

Biden, on his first trip abroad as president, traveled to Belgium from Britain on Sunday, where he attended the G7 summit, and was greeted by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo .

Brussels has launched a major security operation to ensure the safety of Biden and the leaders of the 28 other NATO member states arriving for the summit.

After a three-hour meeting on Monday afternoon, NATO leaders are expected to issue a joint statement. Biden is also expected to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after the main NATO meeting.

Biden is scheduled to attend the EU-US summit on Tuesday. He will meet with the President of the European Council Charles Michel and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

But Biden will not attend a joint press conference with them, leaving the Belgian capital for Geneva in the early afternoon for a meeting with Vladimir Putin.

“The transatlantic link is the cornerstone of the rules-based international system that ushered the world into an era of peace and prosperity after World War II. This relationship has been undermined by the one-sided and isolationist tendencies of the Trump administration. »Croatian Socialist MEP Tonino Picula

Ahead of the visit, MEP Radoskaw Sikorski, chairman of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with the United States, told this site: “We warmly welcome Joe Biden, a noble man and an ally on whom we can count.

“We don’t have to agree on everything, but we can do things together. Together, we must strengthen our democracies, including by judiciously regulating social media, concluding the agreement to eliminate tax havens and developing a common position on China ”.

On the meeting between Biden and Putin, Sikorski called on the US president: “Please tell him from us that if he blackmail countries with gas, the NordStream sanctions will return. If he attacks a neighbor again, we will respond with action, not just words. And every time he, or Lukashenko, assassinates or kidnaps an opponent in the West, we will double our aid to Russian or Belarusian opponents ”.

Another comment comes from Croatian Socialist MEP Tonino Picula, parliamentary rapporteur on the United States and spokesperson for the S&D group on foreign affairs and EU-US relations.

He said: “The transatlantic link is the cornerstone of the rules-based international system that brought the world into an era of peace and prosperity after World War II. This relationship has been undermined by the one-sided and isolationist tendencies of the Trump administration. “

“We need to seek to redefine our relationship on an equal footing and take on greater responsibility. Challenges remain – in trade, Russian and Chinese approaches and other areas, agriculture and data protection, especially after the recent revelations. “

“Nonetheless, we are encouraged by Washington’s political will to approach our differences constructively and to focus on a constructive common agenda.”

Verts / ALE group co-leader Philippe Lamberts called on EU governments and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to “stop blocking temporary suspension of intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines and to support US President Joe Biden, South Africa and India. “

Meanwhile, the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) released a report calling on the EU and the United States to “accede” to the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which is entered into force in January.

Tim Wright, ICAN Treaty Coordinator and co-author of the report, said: “The growing wave of political support for the new UN treaty in many NATO states and growing public pressure for action suggest that it is only a matter of time before one or more of these states take steps towards accession. Ultimately, governments are accountable to their citizens and cannot ignore democratic will indefinitely. “

Ian Bond, director of foreign policy for the Center for European Reform, gave his assessment of the summit, saying: “Biden is the most Atlanticist US president since Bill Clinton. Europe and the United States will not agree on everything, but they should not lose this chance to strengthen their partnership.

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