The U.S. commitment to Europe is ironclad in the face of new and renewed threats from Russian aggression, terrorist threats, cyberattacks and other challenges, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on November 28.
In a broad speech outlining the importance of a strong trans-Atlantic partnership in the face of new and renewed threats, Tillerson laid out challenges across the world from Europe to the Middle East to Afghanistan and North Korea.
He applauded NATO members Albania, Croatia, France, Hungary and Romania for newly committing to meet the alliance’s target of spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense, but said other members must also meet that goal.
“The United States remains committed to our enduring relationship with Europe. Our security commitments to European allies are ironclad,” Tillerson said.
At the same time, the “nations of Europe must accept greater responsibility for their own security challenges,” he added. “Our freedom and security is at stake.”
Tillerson said Russia has used malicious tactics to drive the U.S. and Europe apart, launched “cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns to undermine free elections,” invaded neighboring Ukraine and harassed diplomats.
He said economic sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine will not be lifted until Russia “reverses the actions that triggered them.”
“The war in Ukraine, in which people are still dying every day, must come to an end,” Tillerson said. Any resolution “that does not entail a fully independent, sovereign and territorially whole Ukraine is unacceptable.”
The secretary of state will be meeting with counterparts at NATO December 5–6 and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe December 7–8. Previewing the message he will give in Europe, Tillerson laid out a number of global threats and challenges.
- Syria: The U.S. and its allies stand united on working toward a political solution that leaves no room in a new government for President Bashar al-Assad.
- Iran: America is committed to addressing “the totality of the Iranian threat. We ask our European partners to join us in standing up to all of Iran’s malign behavior,” not just the nuclear agreement.
- ISIS: On the brink of extinction in Iraq and Syria, ISIS is looking for new footholds and the threat “will persist in our own country and in others.”
- North Korea: The U.S. and its partners in Europe are working together to maximize pressure on the Pyongyang regime and seek a denuclearized Korean peninsula.
He said free nations must remain vigilant in protection of liberty and Western ideals in the face of threats from “authoritarian nation states, radical Islamist terrorists and hackers with a lust for chaos.”
“We cannot fail to take on the sovereign responsibility of protecting those freedoms,” said Tillerson.