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US needs Europe for its security too, says NATO chief

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg urged the United States to stick with Europe as the military alliance turned 75 menaced by an aggressive Russia and the spectre of Donald Trump’s return to power.

“I don’t believe in America alone, just as I don’t believe in Europe alone. I believe in America and Europe together in NATO because we are stronger and safer together,” Mr Stoltenberg said at a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

NATO foreign ministers are meeting for a second day and will mark the signing in Washington on 4 April 1949, of the North Atlantic Treaty that established the transatlantic political and military alliance.

NATO began with 12 members from North America and Europe, founded in response to growing fears that the Soviet Union posed a military threat to European democracies.

At its heart is the concept of collective defence, the idea that an attack on one member is considered an attack on all, giving US military protection to Western Europe.

Seventy-five years later, NATO has 32 members and has retaken a central role in world affairs, after Russia’s war in Ukraine prompted European governments to view Moscow once more as a major security threat.

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From Cold War to the Ukraine war: NATO at 75

NATO’s two newest members, Finland and Sweden, joined in direct response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

“Democratic nations, free people chose to join (NATO) unlike how Russia expands by annexation or illegal aggression,” Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen told reporters.

Russia said yesterday that NATO had returned to a Cold War mindset. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters NATO had no place in the “multipolar world” Moscow says it seeks to build to end US dominance.

NATO ministers agreed to start planning for a greater NATO role in coordinating security assistance and training for Ukraine.

Under a proposal by Mr Stoltenberg, NATO would take over work done by a US-led ad-hoc coalition known as the Ramstein group, in part to guard against any cut in US support if Donald Trump returns to the White House, diplomats said.

Mr Stoltenberg has also proposed a fund of €100bn to support Ukraine’s military over five years, according to diplomats.

It is not clear whether that figure will be accepted by NATO, which takes decisions by consensus.

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