"EU would not be able to defend itself without NATO"

Jens Stoltenbeg has warned that the EU would not be able to defend itself without NATO and two key allies outside the EU - the US and the UK.

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(Getty Images, file)
(Getty Images, file)

According to the NATO secretary general, the EU would not be able to defend itself after Brexit.

"After Brexit, the two countries with the highest defense spending, the United States and the United Kingdom, will be outside the EU, and three out of four battle groups on the eastern wing are under the command of states outside the EU. It is not possible for the EU to withstand without the help of non-EU countries," Stoltenberg said in an interview published by the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita.

Stoltenberg stressed that NATO is committed to strengthening the defense of the EU, and that the two organizations should complement each other rather than compete.

"We want more European forces, more modern capabilities, more defense spending, less fragmentation. We must avoid duplication like the creation of European command or a European army. And the rhetoric that Europe would be able to mange without NATO," he said.

According to the NATO secretary general, western allies do not want a new Cold War with Russia.

"Russia must know that a violation of international law has its consequences. That's why we support sanctions, that's why we suspend our cooperation, that's why we are strengthening our defense capabilities. At the same time, we do not want a return of the Cold War, we do not want open confrontation. Russia will remain our biggest neighbor. We must have political dialogue with it, " Stoltenberg said.

He also reminded Poland that NATO is an organization based on "respecting the rule of law and civil liberties" - and urged the country to also respect them.

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