NATO Parliamentary Assembly Brussels 20-22 February 2023

My thoughts after the meeting reinforced the view that the war in Ukraine waged by Russia confirmed that Russia cannot be allowed to win and their ambition is more than Ukraine. Russia aim to generate more instability in the region and are against the rules based order, sovereignty and borders. 50 nations have helped Ukraine. If Russia stops the war is over , if Ukraine stops they have lost their country. There were assumptions made that if we do business with China we would make them rich and they would move towards democracy. The assumptions were proved wrong. There is a new era of collective defence. In a democracy we talk about it- in an autocracy the leader decides. The collective defence means that NATO is ready, after Crimea, and agreed in 2018 a new strategy. We all have to think about what do we have to do to defend aggression from Russia or terrorists. 

NATO is 911 and Article 5 states that: “an attack on one is an attack on all”. Article 3 states: every nation has to be able to defend itself. “tell me what you have”.   and all the nations have to do more for their own defence and spend up to the 2% commitment as discussed in Vilinius. Ukraine is spending 30% of its GDP.

If we want peace we have to prepare for war. Form should follow function. Resilience is important and in Ukraine, ballerinas are in the trenches and have died. There is no such thing as an offensive or defensive weapon – a gun is a gun.

China is buying our harbours, railroad, roads food and energy. The Economy is connected to security- everything is connected. Energy, food and migration are being used as weapons.  Defence structures depend on the industrial capacity. We need to be safe and secure. The Industrial base can only exist if it is safe. Expect the unexpected- all nations should realise this. 

There is an autocratic axis with Russia aligned with China  but India has an important role as the fastest growing country economically and by population. The Indo-Pacific region must be included.  It was an important meeting to hear from all NATO countries and the EU Vice President spoke to us about the Climate and Energy policies in the New Strategic Environment.  


Frans Timmermans Executive Vice-President, European with Deal, European Commission