Thursday at the NATO Defence Ministerial in Brussels Allied Defence Ministers agreed that if the Government of Iraq approved, the NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) would be continued. On the basis of the account of the negotiations with the leadership of Iraq presented by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Ministers also agreed to look into the possibilities to expand the Alliance’s role in Iraq by taking over some of the tasks of the Global Coalition To Defeat ISIS.
“We have to maintain our achievements in the fight against terrorism, therefore Lithuania will continue upholding its commitments and support collective NATO decisions for ensuring stability in Iraq,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis said at the NATO Defence Ministerial. Lithuanian soldiers serve in the NATO Mission Iraq, it was launched in 2004 to train national security forces of Iraq. The mission mandate does not include engagement in combat actions.
The NATO Defence Ministerial on February 12 and 13 also addresses NATO operations, including the NATO and NATO partners’ operation in Afghanistan. Ministers also discussed the ways to strengthen the Alliance’s deterrence and defence measures. Particular attention was paid to the response to the intermediate-range cruise missiles that threaten almost all of the European capitals deployed by Russia. Ministers also took stock of the progress made on the NATO Readiness Initiate aiming to enhance allied rapid response capabilities on land, in the air, and at sea.
At a joint session with High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell Minister R.Karoblis invited to expand the NATO-EU cooperation, maintain the pressure on Russia and to render coordinated NATO and EU assistance to Ukraine. “EU sanctions reinforce NATO’s deterrence and defence,” Minister of National Defence said.
On the margins of formal meetings NATO Ministers of Defence met with Minister of Defence of Ukraine informally. Minister of National Defence R. Karoblis expressed strong support to Ukraine’s efforts to resist the Russian pressure and to Ukraine’s ongoing security reform.
Minister R. Karoblis and his Danish, Estonian, British, Latvian, Dutch, and Norwegian counterparts also signed a Readiness Declaration committing the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) to contribute to purposes of the NATO Response Force. The JEF is a brigade-sized high readiness force for reposing to emergencies in Europe and beyond , from humanitarian aid to deterrence and combat operations. The JEF is primarily meant for rapid response operations under the flag of the European Union, NATO, or the United Nations. JEF elements could be also used for Article 5 operations.
Photo credits: NATO int.