NATO foreign ministers have agreed on steps to combat hybrid warfare –- the type Russia has used against Ukraine — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters today in Antalya, Turkey.
Speaking at a news conference at the end of the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting, Stoltenberg said NATO is already undergoing its greatest transformation since the end of the Cold War and will continue steps to reassure allies and combat hybrid conflict.
NATO is also working with the European Union to stem conflict to the south, the secretary general said.
Combination of Threats
Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its continued actions in eastern Ukraine are classic examples of hybrid war, Stoltenberg added. He said it’s a combination of threats, including conventional forces, subversion of legitimate governments and cyberattacks.
“We also face sophisticated disinformation and radicalization campaigns,” he said. “Our best weapon against disinformation is information based on our values of democracy, freedom of speech and open societies.”
The secretary general said he welcomed the United Kingdom’s announcement that it is providing funding to support NATO strategic communications to combat the Russian propaganda campaign. The U.K. also announced it will fund defense capacity building, and Turkey has also agreed to contribute to this effort, Stoltenberg said.
Increasing Cooperation, Stability
Capacity building is the heart of the strategy to combat hybrid war, he said. Stable governments can withstand threats from hybrid conflict and defense capacity building increases stability, the secretary general said.
“If our neighbors are more stable, we are more secure,” Stoltenberg said. “So we must do more for our neighbors and with our neighbors.”
The foreign ministers also examined ways to increase NATO’s cooperation with Sweden and Finland. “We have agreed to look at ways to hold more consultations and to share more information about what is happening in the Baltic Sea region and beyond, so that we all have the fullest possible picture,” he said. “We will also look at how we can conduct more exercises together with Finland and Sweden.”
The challenges from Russia and from the south will require a collective response, Stoltenberg said. All nations in Europe must work more closely together.
Part of that will be increased cooperation with the European Union to counter hybrid warfare, he said. “We will ensure that the strategies we are developing are complementary, so that we can work together quickly and effectively in the case of a hybrid threat against any of our members.” the secretary general said. “The overall goal will be to ensure that, in the event of a hybrid threat, there is clarity on ‘who does what and when.’”