WASHINGTON, February 18. /TASS/. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has stated at a videoconference of the NATO Defense Ministerial that members of the alliance need to maintain spending on defense to address challenges on the part of Russia, the Pentagon’s press service reported on Wednesday.
"He cited the multiple threats and challenges facing the Alliance including: Destabilizing behavior by Russia, a rising China, terrorism, and global challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change," the statement said. "Secretary Austin noted that defense spending is essential to ensuring we have the ready forces and capabilities needed to address Russia and other challenges to NATO," the press service reported.
Additionally, according to the press service, the secretary of defense "reaffirmed the President’s message that the United States intends to revitalize our relationship with the NATO Alliance."
The videoconference of the NATO defense ministers is conducted on Wednesday and Thursday in a closed format. There are three main issues on the agenda: whether or not to fulfill the US agreement with the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia) on withdrawing all foreign troops from Afghanistan by May 1; the discussion of the ‘NATO 2030’ initiative and the development of a new strategic concept of the alliance where Russia and China will be proclaimed the NATO’s major adversaries; and the discussion of a further increase in military spending of the member states and expansion of purchases of new armaments which the US demands from its allies despite the economic shock caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
On February 14, 2003, the Russian Supreme Court declared the Taliban a terrorist organization. The extremist organization’s activities are outlawed in Russia.