On January 18, 2023, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines participated in the panel, “Restoring Security and Peace,” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Fareed Zakaria from CNN moderated the panel, which also included North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg; President of Poland Andrzej Duda; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Canada Chrystia Freeland; and First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy of Ukraine Yuliia Svyrydenko. The panel is available to view here, and the transcript is below.
MR. ZAKARIA: Let me invite our panel up. We have really one of the most extraordinary panels: Chrystia Freeland, the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada; Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO; President Duda of Poland; and the Director of National Intelligence of the United States, Avril Haines. Please come up.
Let me begin, Avril Haines, with you, if I may. American intelligence these days has a justified reputation for being very good, having very accurately predicted what was going to happen in Ukraine last February, so much so that I remember this well that people in Ukraine did not believe it. People in the West, in Europe, did not believe it, but you continued to press that that was in fact what was going to happen, and it did.
So what’s going to happen next? Where does it look to you like the war is headed?
DNI HAINES: Well, first of all, thanks very much. And it’s a great honor frankly to be on the stage with all of the participants, including you, Fareed. I think we should be humble about honestly our capacity initially in identifying the threat. And, you know, even for ourselves, it took us a while to really adjust and absorb the fact that this was a real possibility that Putin was considering.
And as we went out and we talked to our colleagues, obviously, in Ukraine, but also the rest of Europe and around the world, we learned a lot from the and ultimately, obviously came to the conclusion that this was real and continued to push on this issue.
In terms of what’s next, I mean, I think it’s very much the way we would say it — it’s not a stalemate, but really a grinding conflict at this stage where quite literally we’re talking about hundreds of meters being fought over in the context of the frontlines.
You know, and I think very much again as President Zelenskyy noted and our own analysts noted, is that during the winter we expected the tempo essentially to be reduced to some extent, and we’re watching nevertheless, I think, some just brutal fighting on the frontlines in this space.
But I do think in many ways, and you know, my Ukrainian colleagues, Deputy Prime Minister and others will have a better sense of this, but I think from our perspective both militaries obviously have challenges. It will be extremely important for Ukraine to receive essentially military assistance and economic assistance moving forward in order for them to be able to continue to manage what they have been heroically doing.
And on the Russian side we see also significant challenges — ammunitions, supplies, morale, exhaustion, some dysfunction in the leadership and so on. Things that are, I think, making it more difficult for the Russian military as well. But I think I’ll leave it to that and others.
MR. ZAKARIA: But I thought we might get the view from Ukraine because it does seem to me that what Putin is doing now is he seems to have decided that he cannot defeat the Ukrainian Army, but he is going to try to crush Ukraine, to defeat Ukrainian civilians as it were, by massive bombardment of, you know, civilian housing, power stations, water treatment plants.
Can you describe for us exactly the nature of the devastation and what can Ukraine do? Can it manage to keep life going?
FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER SVYRYDENKO: So, yes, Ukraine. Keep fighting, and keep developing, and what we recognized during this 329 days that we got a unique knowledge, and I think that you feel that we can Army train the use of military technology very quickly when we’ll have to use military tech on the battlefield.
And we want to use this knowledge, and we want to share this knowledge with the global world because, I think, it’s a unique experience for Ukrainians as we can maintain energy under a constant missile attack. All the teachers provide a lesson for the children despite of that. The shelling, you know, our trains, come on time, 96 percent, and I think it’s unique knowledge. It’s knowledge we can share with the global world, as global world will require new skills.
And Ukrainians doing this work, I agree that it’s another perspective, and it’s another look at the war time, but still we can offer to the world new skills, and Ukrainians that the war in Ukraine right now. So that’s why I think that it’s something we can offer to the world, it’s something that can attract foreign investment today, even during the war time.
So, we are very grateful for the advice, that was provided financially for the last year, as President Zelenskyy noticed, and it helped us to keep moderate financial stability. But what we do next is we need to start this early recovery, and, of course, we are not able like their country to provide incentives for companies, but we’re able to provide this new energy, we’re able to provide these new skills that we get through this 329 days of the war time.
MR. ZAKARIA: President Duda, it seems it is striking to me how strong the West has been and other parts of the world as well in supporting Ukraine. Do you think that the response is strong enough and, more importantly, what everybody worries about is will it stay strong? Robert Gates and Condoleezza Rice wrote an article recently in which they said Putin’s goal, his strategy, is that he will outlast the West. The West may be strong now, but it will start splintering as energy crises happen, as financial crises happen. Do you worry about that?
PRESIDENT DUDA: First of all, I would like to thank you for the invitation for me to sit here with such a distinguished group of the participants, with the panel and with the Prime Minister of Ukraine, and in this very room with the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska. Olena, thank you for coming.
I know that here in this room there is a lot of real friends of Ukraine. I see also the president of Latvia, Egils Levits. Thank you for coming. Ukraine, Ukraine I know very well. I know very well not only because we are talking about it all the time here, but I know it very well because five days ago, six days ago I talked in Lviv with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and I know very well that Ukraine needs weapons, weapons as I said yesterday, and once again weapons are crucial.
Now, because this war is really very difficult. This is not the end of the war. Russia is not defeating. They are still Russians. They are still very strong. There are a lot of Russian soldiers in the frontline, and we are afraid that they are preparing. Now they are preparing themselves for a new offensive in a few months probably.
So, this is crucial to send now additional military support for Ukraine, especially modern tanks, especially modern missiles — to defend Ukraine, but first of all to stop Russian offensive, and this is crucial. Is it enough? This is the question. I’m afraid it’s not. That this assistance we’ve just sent to Ukraine is still not enough.
Ukraine needs more of our efforts, needs more of our aid, and we should mobilize ourselves to help them because the situation is really difficult, and I’m afraid now it is and it will be in a few maybe months, maybe weeks, crucial moment, next crucial moments of this war. And this moment will answer with a question: will Ukraine survive or not?
I am a neighbor of Ukraine. I am a President of Poland. Poland is, as you know, a member of NATO and a member of the European Union. We understand Ukrainians. We know that they really want to be members of the Western society, members of the Western political community, members of the Western security zone, security area, so they want to be members of European Union, they want to be members of NATO, but, first of all, they have to survive.
They have to maintain their country. They have to maintain their sovereignty. They have to remain free, and, now this is crucia,l we have to help them. They want to have democracy, and we are members of democratic countries, so for us this voice, voice of Ukrainian society their will shall be crucial. Their will is to be part of the European society and part of the North Atlantic society. We should hear them. We should listen to their voice. Thank you.
MR. ZAKARIA: Chrystia, there are two Deputy Prime Ministers on the podium side, hope you don’t mind Chrystia if I call you Chrystia. How would you respond to this question. Do you worry about the staying power of the West?
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER FREELAND: So, the short answer is of course. It would be stupid and naive not to. But I think we’re going to do it, and I think, of course I worry. I am ultimately extremely confident, and I am extremely confident first and foremost because of the magnificent job Ukraine is doing.
We saw President Zelenskyy just now. I think it’s right for all of us to honor Olena Zelenska, who is here with us, and of course Yuliia, and the people of Ukraine. And you know President Duda said something very important, many important things. One was we need to listen to the Ukrainians, and you just said it too. We need to get out of a mindset, which I think a lot of us had when the Soviet Union first collapsed, of like we were the smart guys, and they weren’t such smart guys.
I also apologize to the Latvians for this attitude. And we need to realize there’s a lot we can learn from what Ukraine is doing right now. And that is ultimately the reason that I think we should have a lot of confidence. I think Ukraine is teaching all of us a game: the true strength of democracy.
Something that in good times it’s easy to not think about that much, Fareed. And I think what we see in Ukraine is people who are free, people who understand what they’re fighting for, and I think very critically people who have social solidarity. You know, it is so important that President Zelenskyy is there. That you have millionaires, multimillionaires, and their sons and daughters in Ukraine and on the frontline.
This is a fight of the whole country. So that’s the first reason I’m confident. But the second reason I’m confident is, you know, President Duda quite rightly pointed out that this is a fight ultimately about values. And it is. But I think we in the West also need to understand that that victory that President Zelenskyy spoke about and that time which he said we need to use.
It’s not about doing Ukraine favors that we’re talking about. Supplying Ukraine with weapons, and as President Zelenskyy very crucially pointed out, supplying Ukraine with the money it needs to win the war is ultimately in our own self-interest. So, I’m a finance minister, and if you were to say to me what is the one thing that G7 finance ministers, G7 governments this year could do that’s actually in our power, right?
We don’t control COVID. We don’t control global supply chains. We don’t control whether there will be immaculate disinflation or not. One thing where we have some real practical levers is we can help Ukraine win clearly, definitively. And if we do that, if that happens this year, you know it as well as I do, Fareed, that would be a huge boost to the global economy.
So, I do think Ukraine is going to win. I think Ukraine is going to win because the Ukrainians have shown total commitment and determination, and they’ve shown they’re smart. I think we’re going to win because our people. Like I think, which is so often the case in democracy, people are smarter than their leaders.
Certainly, speaking for Canada, Canadians got this on day one. They understand that we need to stand up for democracy and democratic values, but they also understand our economies, our security, the fact that nuclear deterrence actually works. All of these critical things are really being decided on the battlefields of Ukraine right now.
So, I am, of course, worried. We would be stupid not to be. But I am ultimately profoundly confident.
MR. ZAKARIA: Mr. Secretary General, you heard the President of Ukraine say he would like to be a member of NATO. Would you let him in?
SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG: NATO’s position remains unchanged. And that is that Ukraine will become a member of NATO. Then of course, the main focus now is to support Ukraine, to ensure that Ukraine wins the war and pervades as a sovereign independent, democratic nation in Europe.
And that’s the reason why NATO allies and partners are providing unprecedented military support to Ukraine, and why I’m traveling around today to NATO capitals and calling on them to do even more. And while I welcome the recent announcement of more armor, more advanced air defense systems, most recently by Canada, with 300 armored vehicles, and, also Poland, a delivery of more weapons.
And of course, the US leading all these efforts in this what you call the contact group of the support group for Ukraine. And as Chrystia just said, it is extremely important that President Putin doesn’t win the war, partly because it would be a tragedy for Ukrainians, but it will be very dangerous for all of us because then the message to authoritarian leaders, not only to Putin, but also other authoritarian leaders, is that when they use brute force, when they’re violating international law, they achieve what they want.
And that will be a very bad and dangerous lesson. It will make the world more dangerous, and also more vulnerable. And that’s the reason why if we want a negotiated peaceful solution to the war in Ukraine, we need to provide military support to Ukraine. That’s the only way.
Weapons… they are the way to peace, and that may sound like a paradox, but the only way to have a negotiated agreement is to convince President Putin that he will not win on the battlefield. He has to sit down and negotiate. Nobody knows how this war will end. Most likely it will end around the negotiating table.
What we do know is what happens around that negotiating table is totally dependent on the strength of the battlefield, and if you want Ukraine to prevail, then they need the military strength.
Then let me add one more thing, and that is that we are bold and encouraged, inspired. We admire the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian political leadership, the Ukrainian Armed Forces. At the same time, I think it’s very dangerous to underestimate Russia.
They are mobilizing 200,000 more troops. President Putin has demonstrated a will to just sacrifice thousands and thousands of young, Ukrainian military Russian soldiers. They are now acquiring more and more weapons, reaching out to other authoritarian regimes, including Iran, and they are planning new offensives.
So, it is as President Zelenskyy said, there is an urgent need. Time matters. We will meet in Ramstein with NATO allies in the U.S. led contact group for Ukraine with all the many partners, and the main message there will be more support and more advanced support, heavier weapons, and more modern weapons because this is a fight for our values. It’s a fight for democracy, and we just have to prove that democracy wins over tyranny and oppression.
MR. ZAKARIA: Avril, you are President Biden’s seniormost representative here at Davos. What would be your message in the context of what President Duda and the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, and the Secretary General of NATO said? What would your message be to Ukrainians about what America will do to help the Ukrainians?
DNI HAINES: About what?
MR. ZAKARIA: What the United States can and will do to help Ukraine.
DNI HAINES: I mean, so I’m in the intelligence community, and I don’t do policy, but, obviously, President Biden and the United States have allocated hundreds of millions of dollars, weapons and, in fact, billions of dollars in support for Ukraine.
And honestly, I mean, I think maybe one way to think about it is on top of everything else that’s been said about the impact for the world, in the event that Ukraine does not succeed, are a series of other things. There is clarity about the fact that honestly, the conflict in Ukraine has global implications beyond the rule of law, beyond even the values, peace, all of which I would prioritize in many respects.
But for economic implications it has consequences for us in thinking about the strength of our alliances. It has consequences for us in thinking about how it is that we’re going to manage crises in the future where we have actors that violate the rule of law, and the charter, and the order that we have set up.
It also has consequences from a proliferation perspective, which is to say that the nuclear saber rattling that Russia has done, is another message that’s been sent to other countries in this context. I think there are many who are watching what happens in Ukraine, and it will affect how they address conflicts in the future.
So, I think there’s just no question that it is in all of our interests to support Ukraine as much as possible. I think Deputy Prime Minister of Canada said it exactly right, which is to say that yes, we do want to support Ukraine for Ukraine because we’re watching what they’re going through, and we want to be there for them and the heroic actions that they’ve taken are extraordinary, but we’re not doing it just for Ukraine, we’re doing it also for our self- interest, and there are a series of ways in which you can look at this to recognize the implications for our foreign policy, our national security collectively moving forward.
MR. ZAKARIA: You know the Ukrainians are asking for more and more advanced weaponry, longer range. Do you think the administration is likely to move forward on some of those requests?
DNI HAINES: Again, I’m sorry, I just can’t speak for the policy community in this scenario as the intelligence officer. But I mean, I have seen obviously, the President, and his national security cabinet, in the policy’s phase continue to move forward on a variety of requests, and I think that will continue.
MR. ZAKARIA: President Duda, you talked about how you believe how urgent and important it is to act now, but I do want to ask you a little bit more about this question of the staying power, partly because your country has done an extraordinary job that I think sometimes we don’t adequately recognize.
You’re taking in over two million Ukrainian refugees, and there are no refugee camps. These are all people who are being housed individually by individual Polish families in their homes. Do you think this can go on for years? I mean whether you’re a politician, you understand, do you get the sense the Polish people are getting tired of playing the role of host to all these refugees?
PRESIDENT DUDA: Oh, thank you, thank you very much for this important, very important words. I want to stress that I’m really very proud of my compatriots, the Polish people. They didn’t need any encouragement to go to the borders to help Ukrainian refugees. We call them Ukrainian guests because they are our neighbors and guests.
And they are in a very difficult situation, but we fully understand that if there is anything we can do for defenders of Ukrainians for Ukrainian heroes who defend Ukraine every day, for those fathers, brothers and sons. We should protect their families, their wives, their children, their sisters. Carry on them and we are trying to do our best as neighbors, and this is something we know very well.
Yeah, this is something we treat as a natural thing, as a normal behavior. This is the first. Second is assistance. Poland remains committed to continuing to provide Ukraine with military equipment. Ukraine needs to defend its sovereignty, to defend its independence, to defend its border, and to, I hope, to win this war and to defeat Russians because this is a crucial element.
So, I’m very grateful, Mr. Secretary General, for these very important words you said a minute ago. And because as I said before we talked with President Nauseda. We talked. We had a meeting in Lviv six days ago. We called this forum [spoke in Polish] with Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, so there was a meeting of three presidents.
And we talked about the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius, yes, and we said to Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Volodymyr, we can assure you that doors to NATO are still open for Ukraine, and we support your future membership in NATO. Volodymyr said “okay guys, thank you very much. I’m very really grateful, but listen, frankly, I don’t want to hear the same story once again, okay? I need guarantees.”
“I can understand that you can’t agree on our full membership in NATO now because we have war. And taking into account Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty it’s impossible, and I understand,” he said. “But I need guarantees. I need guarantees for my country. I need guarantees of security, and please talk with your NATO allies because we need it. We need it immediately.”
And if you decide to give us these guarantees here in the upcoming NATO Summit, it will be real success. Success of NATO, and success of Ukraine, and this is crucial. So, Mr. Secretary General, I will be very grateful.
MR. ZAKARIA: Yuliia, can I ask you to give us a sense of the… I mean, you must have given some thought to what will it cost to rebuild Ukraine? In looking at the devastation, we look at the photographs and the video, and it’s like something out of World War II, because I really don’t think we have seen the targeted destruction of cities in quite this way.
People sometimes refer to the Russian bombing as indiscriminate bombing. I don’t think it’s indiscriminate. It is discriminate, it is targeted precisely at civilians, at civilian infrastructure. It is designed to destroy civilian life. What, when you think about this problem, because you are likely to inherit it,help us understand the scale of what you are thinking about.
FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER SVYRYDENKO: I want to tell that Ukrainians fight on two fronts. One is a military front. Another one is an economic front. And we speak about numbers and figures, so if you look at the World Bank estimation, on September the number was 350 billion U.S. dollars, but now we estimate that it might be up to one trillion. As you know, every day our energy grid under the massive missile strike.
So, every day we get another damage event, so that’s why it’s so important to find a way to supply us weapon to give us guarantees to help us, and most contribution that is contribution to the victory. But the victory to find we have to obtain the victory, get the victory in the nearest year, this year, let’s say it like this. As I think no one doubt that Ukraine will win this war.
I think no one doubt. The question is the question that was raised by the President. We have a shortage of time, that’s why we need right now to collaborate with each other, and to find a way how to supply us. We want weapon antimissile system, heavy weapon tanks just to speed up our victory because every day brings more damages, and it means dead. Exactly, on the second day of the week today we will come to our allies, and we will ask for finance for the rebuilding of Ukraine, and it could cost more than it might cost right now.
That’s why it has a huge impact on economic globally, and that’s why it’s so important from an economic point of view to find a way. Sanction policy, weapon supply, and policy and the help of our allies in financial support right now just to put like a goal, and to get the victory during this year.
MR. ZAKARIA: Chrystia, you’re a money person. This is a challenge for the West at a time when deficits and debt loads are high. Will it be possible to provide Ukraine with the kind of assistance on the scale it needs to rebuild?
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER FREELAND: Well before we get to rebuilding, we have to support Ukraine in its fight. And we have to support Ukraine to victory. And I do want to emphasize something that you had just said about the economic battlefield, and I think she’s exactly right.
The weapons — absolutely essential. But, one of the remarkable things happening in Ukraine right now is it is a functional state. As Yuliia just said, trains running on time 96 percent of the time. When President Zelenskyy went to Kherson, liberated Kherson, one of the first things he said is now you will get your pensions, and we’re going to pay you all the pensions you didn’t get when you were under occupation.
I think we cannot underestimate how important Ukraine’s continued existence as a functional state is to the winning of the war. So, we need to get the money now, and it’s remarkable. Yuliia, bravo, that you guys have been doing it, and we need to continue to support that effort. We heard, I think from Yuliia, thanking the international financial institutions, but we need to keep going.
Ukraine needs an IMF program. We should make meaningful progress there in the first quarter, and the countries here need to continue to provide support. You spoke, Fareed, and you’re absolutely right about being sure that there’s public buy in. So, I’ll tell you one thing that we did in November, which is Canada issued Ukraine sovereignty bonds.
These are guaranteed by Canada’s Triple A credit rating. They’re a government of Canada bond, but all of the money was earmarked to go directly to Ukraine. We issued 500 million dollars’ worth of sovereignty bonds, and they were sold out in less than two weeks.
The Central Bank of Poland bought some of those bonds, so thank you very much, Mister President. And, you know, I think we as democratic Western leaders need to also be, you know, President Zelenskyy is doing a great job of making sure that our people understand the importance of this fight. I think we also need to be doing that job, and we need to be sure that we are talking.
You know, in my case, with Canadians, about why this matters, and I actually find they tell me why it matters, but I need to give them opportunities to be part of this fight. And I just, I want to quickly pick up on one thing that Avril said that could kind of get missed I think in the flow of all the things we’ve been talking about, which is the nuclear deterrence point.
And I think this is one element. You know when we talk about the benefits that we get from a Ukrainian victory, one of them that I think we have to really be mindful of is what a Ukrainian victory would mean, and what a Ukrainian defeat would mean for nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation in the world.
Because I think if Ukraine were to be defeated, then what that tells you is no matter how much you want your sovereignty, no matter how united you are as a country, no matter how prepared you are to fight, if you are fighting a bigger country that has nuclear weapons, you’re going to lose. And think about the message that sends to smaller countries around the world.
I think an extremely dangerous one. And so, from my perspective, that is yet another reason that in supporting Ukraine we are supporting our own economic wellbeing, and, also, our own security.
MR. ZAKARIA: Avril, let me pick up on that, but on something more specific. I think we all know that the elephant in the room with regard to the consequences of a Russian victory are the fear that it would signal to China that it was permissible, acceptable, or it would come at low cost for them to invade Taiwan.
Take us through your intelligence judgment of what the effect of a Russian victory would be on China.
DNI HAINES: Yeah. I think, I mean, first of all, let me apply what was just said about the nuclear saber rattling in relation to China. So, we’ve indicated in our annual threat assessment that among the things that we are seeing is China engaging in a pretty extraordinary expansion of their nuclear program.
And I think one of the things that we look at is essentially what is the lesson that they’re learning from the consequence of the conflict that we’ve seen.In this space, and, you know, our assessment would be that basically it has caused them, likely, to just confirm their own view that this is critical as a deterrent, and that they can use that program effectively in order to do the kind of nuclear saber rattling that we’ve seen Russia do in this context.
So that’s kind of one piece of the puzzle. Another, to your point, is that I think, first of all, we haven’t seen ultimately the final chapter in effect on this, and so we can’t really give you here are all of the lessons that China has learned as a consequence of the conflict.
But I think there are a couple of things that are worth highlighting. One is that I think it is likely that we exceeded their expectations in terms of our capacity. We joined together, you know, as an alliance of states across the world to actually counter Russia in this space. That would be one, and, particularly, on the sanctions piece.
And I think one of the challenges is that sanctions in the context of Russia versus China have some interesting differences, right? So, if you were to enact a significant amount of sanctions vis-à-vis China, you are likely to have greater impact on China because of its integration with the world economy.
At the same time, it will also create more sacrifice, essentially, in those who are enacting those sanctions. So, that’s one piece of it. Another I think is the export control piece. We’ve really, you know, export controls are used in a pretty remarkable way during this conflict, and they’ve been quite effective, so far as we can tell and targeted in their impact.
And they’ve been done as a coalition, which I think is another aspect of it that’s important for countries that concern themselves with disadvantaging their own businesses in the context of export controls. And so that’s another I think thing that China is likely watching, and, you know, we see both China and Russia doing a lot of thinking as they have in the past about how do you effectively create a system that provides you with greater resilience so that you can counter the actions of those sanctions.
But I would say one of the things that is remarkable is the way, I think in which the coalition of states that have enacted sanctions have been capable of kind of watching how the invasion has been operating on Russia’s side, and adjusting, as a consequence, and therefore maintaining some of the pressure that exists in this space.
You know, another issue that they’re almost certainly watching is the kind of information war that Russia is waging and trying to think through how it is that that goes. And I think we’ve also seen, you know, China ultimately, you know, in our view, engage in a number of activities that are supportive of Russia, and yet not coming out explicitly in support, and feeling a little bit uncomfortable about where that puts them in these spaces.
So, I mean there’s a number of things that we could continue to go down the road of, and certainly there’s military kind of lessons that they are undoubtedly learning, you know, and among the things that would seem most likely is that you really want to overmatch, essentially, in this context, and have a quick conflict, as opposed to allowing effectively, the world to come together to provide assistance and to help these spaces.
But I think it is still a story to be told as we kind of watch this move forward.
MR. ZAKARIA: Secretary General can you give us an update on where things stand with Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO? It does appear from the outside that the Turks are simply blackmailing NATO, or Sweden in particular. It feels like a bargain where, you know, they just keep asking for more until they get more because they know at the end of the day they have leverage right now.
It feels inappropriate for NATO to have to behave like this. It looks more like a bazaar.
SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG: I’m confident that Turkey will finalize the accession process for Finland and Sweden. I cannot tell you when, but I’m confident for several reasons. First of all, Turkey was one of the NATO allies that after our summit in Madrid in July last year actually decided to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of the Alliance.
And all NATO allies, also Turkey a few days after signed the accession protocols, and so far 28 of the NATO’s 30 allies have all been ratified. This is the quickest, fastest accession process in NATO’s modern history. Normally accession into NATO takes years. It’s less than a year since Finland and Sweden applied.
They applied in May. They were invited in July, and all of the 28 of the 30 have ratified. Second, we need to understand where we started. Weeks, or a couple of months, before the invasion of Ukraine President Putin proposed a security treaty with NATO where he actually outlined some key demands.
One was that NATO should guarantee no more NATO members, and no further acknowledgement of NATO. The other main demand was to remove all NATO forces’ infrastructure in all allies that have joined after 1997 meeting, meaning the whole Eastern part of the Alliance. Of course, we did reject those demands, but it demonstrates that the purpose, the aim of President Putin is to get less NATO. He’s getting exactly the opposite.
Hours after the invasion, we significantly increased the number of NATO troops in the Eastern part of the Alliance, including in Poland, to send a very clear message to Moscow that there’s no room for misunderstanding about NATO’s readiness, ability, commitment to protect and defend all NATO allies.
And that is to prevent escalation because it’s extremely bad what’s going on in Ukraine now. But, of course, if this escalates to full-fledged war between Russia and NATO, it becomes even worse. So, the increased military presence in the Eastern part of the Alliance is not to provoke the conflict, but to prevent the conflict, preserve peace, send a clear message of the terms to Moscow.
That is more NATO is getting more NATO onto this border. The other thing is that Finland and Sweden applied because of the threats he claimed. They actually realized the door was going to… they were afraid the door to NATO was closing, so they asked to get in.
And they will become members, and the last thing is that Finland and Sweden are in very different place now than before they applied. Because, since they applied several allies, including United States, have issued bilateral security services, and NATO has increased its presence in that part of Europe, and Finland and Sweden are now as invitees, participating in NATO’s political meetings, consultations, and are more and more into our military structures.
So it’s absolutely inconceivable that there will be a military threat against Finland or Sweden without NATO reacting. So, President Putin wanted less NATO, he’s getting more NATO. And that’s an important message.
MR. ZAKARIA: Let me make sure we get this clear because this is very important because there is a window, an awkward period, or dangerous period. If Russia would attack Finland or Sweden tomorrow, even though they are not NATO members, NATO would come to the assistance of those two countries?
SECRETARY GENERAL STOLTENBERG: That’s what I’m saying, is that it’s inconceivable that we would not react. I mean, they are now not only close partners. They are invitees. They are integrated into our military structures, and we have a bilateral security assurances from several allies.
So we need to react. Moscow knows that, and they also know that they have now devoted most of their troops to Ukraine, so actually that it’s unlikely for any, as a military attack, is very little, partly because so close to NATO, and partly because they are now spending so much Russia is spending so much of their forces in the Ukraine.
The last thing I will say on Turkey is that Turkey has some legitimate security concerns. No open air to allies, except for military attacks on Turkey. PKK is regarded as a terrorist organization. Why? NATO allies. By Finland and Sweden, long before they applied.
And therefore, part of the agreement in Madrid was also to sign a joint memorandum between Turkey, Finland and Sweden, to step up cooperation, for instance, lift all restrictions on arms exports. Finland and Sweden have done that already, and to work real closely in fighting terrorism. And that’s actually something which is important for Turkey, but also for NATO allies.
MR. ZAKARIA: We have run out of time, but I want to ask. We have a special guest in the audience. The founder of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab. Klaus, is there anything you would like to ask or add at this moment?
And we have seen that support. Klaus Schwab, thank you so much. To this extraordinary panel, my thanks, and of course to President Zelenskyy, please tell him that we really, really appreciated it.
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