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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  June 16, 2021 12:30am-1:01am BST

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ahead of tomorrow's summit with president vladimir putin of russia. relations between the two countries are at their lowest point in decades — and mr biden has already said he will lay down america's �*red lines�* during the discussions on wednesday. a large group of israeli ultra—nationalist groups have taken part in an annual march marking israel's annexation of eastjerusalem in nineteen—sixty—seven. chanting, whistling and banging drums — the group's on a police—approved route — passing close to — but not through — the damascus gate intojerusalem's old city. here — an independent panel's accused london's metropolitan police force of �*a form of institutional corruption�* for concealing or denying failings over the unsolved murder of a private investigator nearly thirty—five years ago. daniel morgan was killed with an axe in the car park of a london pub. now on bbc news, it's
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hardtalk with stephen sackur welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. joe biden prepared for his geneva summit with vladimir putin by reassuring his partners in nato that america is back in the saddle, committed to the defence of european allies and determined to lead the alliance's response to evolving geographical and technological threats. but how convincing is all of this reassurance? well, my guest is nato secretary general jens stoltenberg. is rhetoric being used to paper over nato�*s cracks? jens stoltenberg at nato headquarters in brussels, welcome to hardtalk.
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jens stoltenberg at nato headquarters in brussels, welcome to hardtalk. thank you so much for having me. now, mr secretary general, thejust—finished nato summit had plenty of talk about challenges coming from russia, but also challenge coming from china. it left some people a little bit confused about your strategic vision. so you tell me, as you sit at headquarters right now, what is perceived to be nato�*s number one threat? nato�*s number one task is to do exactly the same today as we have done for more than 70 years, and that is to
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protect and defend all allies against any potential threat. but the threats we face, they shift, and during the cold war, it was one well—defined threat, that was the soviet union. it was dangerous but it was, in a way, clear. now, we live in a much more unpredictable, much more complex world, where we see the aggressive actions of russia, we see terrorism, we see cyber threats, and we see also the security consequences of the rise of china. so this more unpredictable world, with threats coming, and challenges, from many different directions, is what nato has to respond to, but exactly... ..but in a way, doing exactly the same as we've done for 70 years, to protect all allies. right, but, i mean, your name hasn't changed. you still are the north atlantic treaty organisation. so i dare say most people would see it as logical that right now, day after day, vladimir putin and his ambitions for his own region, his own assertiveness beyond his own borders, surely that remains your number one threat as a regional collective security
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organisation? so we don't rank the threats. we face much more complex and many, many different threats at the same time, and we need to be prepared for them at the same time. the only time we have invoked our article five was after terrorist attacks on the united states, organised from afghanistan, so i think itjust reminds us that we face many different threats. we have to be prepared for all of them. yes, nato remains an alliance of north america and europe, but this region faces global threats, from a more aggressive russia, but also from cyber and many other directions. so this idea that we need to identify one specific threat being the number one is wrong. we are prepared for many surprises and many different threats, and we need to be prepared for the unforeseen, and that's exactly what nato is. and what we actually did
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on monday, we agreed a forward—looking, ambitious agenda, nato 2030, to adapt and modernise nato in a more competitive world. all right, interesting you put it in terms of... ..of global perspectives, notjust regional. so let us now look at what is right at the heart of the day—to—day challenge, and it is russia, and we speak asjoe biden is preparing for a face—to—face meeting in geneva with vladimir putin. you have been top dog at nato, secretary general, for the last seven years. you took overjust after vladimir putin and his forces had annexed crimea and moved into east ukraine to back the separatists there. would you acknowledge that over seven years, you have done nothing to actually change vladimir putin's approach to his region? no, i will not agree to that.
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nato has actually, triggered by the illegal annexation of crimea, implemented the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence in a generation. for the first time in our history, we have battle groups in the eastern part of the alliance, we have tripled the size of the nato readiness force, and allies are investing more in defence for the first time since the end of the cold war. this is important changes of how nato is responding to the aggressive actions by russia against ukraine, georgia and other countries. at the same time... right, but look at the record of the last seven years, mr secretary general. vladimir putin's forces, of course, are still in crimea, the annexation hasn't been reversed. vladimir putin, in effect, still controls eastern ukraine. vladimir putin is backing the lukashenko regime in belarus, despite all of the pressures that the west has tried to bring to bear on that particular situation. vladimir putin is
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ramping up his military deployments in the arctic. nothing that nato has done in terms of deterrence has changed vladimir putin's strategy. well, the main purpose of nato is to make sure that no nato ally suffer the same kind of aggressive actions that we have seen against ukraine and georgia. and we have been able to protect, preserve peace, prevent any armed military attack against any nato ally for more than 70 years, including since 2014, after we saw the illegal annexation of crimea. so that's the success of nato. it's that we prevent anything similar to happen to a nato country, as we have seen happening to other countries in the neighbourhood of...of russia. surely that's the minimum threshold of what you at nato hoped to achieve over the last seven years. for example, even before you took over as secretary general,
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nato had committed long—term to seeing ukraine become a member of your organisation. over the seven years you've been in charge, nothing has been done to progress ukrainian membership, and when president zelensky of ukraine, on the eve of this latest summit, he tweeted saying, and obviously he was hoping to put pressure on you, saying that in effect, you know, "we've now got the green light for a membership action plan." that was quickly dismissed by all of the nato members and yourself. ukraine doesn't have a membership action plan, and there's no sign that you want ukraine to be a member of nato. but first of all, it's not a small thing to prevent any ally, orallallies, from being attacked by... russia or any other potential adversaries. so that's not a small minimum. it's actually extremely important to preserve peace for all nato allies.
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second, we do a lot also to support ukraine. we give them strong political support for their territorial integrity and sovereignty, and allies are also providing strong practical support for ukraine with different types of training, capacity building. i spoke with several allies during the summit that are also ready to step up, so we are supporting ukraine because we... ukraine is a close partner, and we also help them to implement reforms because the way to move towards nato membership is to modernise, reform the defence and security situation, so one day they can meet nato standards. but the point is, mr stoltenberg, that those members of nato who are arguably most vulnerable to russian aggression, that is, for example, poland, the baltic states, they all say ukraine should be given the road map to membership now. in fact, it is a vital signal
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to send to vladimir putin that ukraine and georgia be given that green light now. why won't you do it? because, to make that decision, we need 30 allies to agree that ukraine is ready for membership. we are...we all agree that we should support ukraine's efforts to move towards membership. we help them to modernise, train, to... increase the standards, and not least, we work with them to fight corruption. corruption is...continues to be a big problem in ukraine, and it undermines the strength of their security and defence institutions. they agree with us that we need to focus on these reforms. that's...these reforms have value in themselves. they make ukraine less vulnerable for russian interference, aggression, but it also helps to move ukraine towards nato membership. when... ? i will not give you a date on when that will happen, but i will say that we will continue to support them on that path.
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will you regard it as a personalfailure if, by the time you leave your post, next year, that ukraine and georgia have not been given a membership action plan status? will that be a failure, as far as you're concerned? that's not the way i work. that's not the way nato works. for us, it is the question of whether ukraine meets the nato standards, and then we make the... we'll make the decision. so this is not a specific date. i have proven in my tenure as secretary general that nato�*s door is open. 0ver my time as...during my time as secretary general, we have enlarged, with two new member states, montenegro and north macedonia. so, actually, it proves that nato�*s door remains open, but it is a decision by 30 allies and the aspirant country to decide when a country
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is ready for membership. russia doesn't have a say. russia doesn't have the right to try to veto a membership of any country. it's a very fundamental principle that all sovereign nations have the right to decide their own path, including what kind of security arrangements they want to be part of. and that, of course, also applies for georgia and ukraine. right. not long ago, president biden described vladimir putin as a killer. is that the way you see him, too? so i worked with president putin over many years in my previous capacity as prime minister of norway. i know that, of course, russia is responsible for aggressive actions. we have seen how they are trying to poison people who are opposing the regime in moscow, how they are cracking down on democratic protests, and how they are also responsible for aggressive actions on nato territory, with, for instance, the skripal case. but i also know that it is possible to make agreements with russia and president putin. therefore, i welcome the us decision to extend the new start agreement, a very important nuclear arms control agreement.
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and i know it from my own experiences on delimitation lines in the barents sea, in norway and russia, or energy agreements, it is possible to sit down and talk with putin, president putin, and with russia. so we need to both realise their aggressive actions... deterrence and dialogue i think is the phrase you often use. i just wonder if you think vladimir putin takes nato and its memberships seriously. cos when you talk about deterrence, joe biden uses words like killer, but at the very same time, we know that many important nato member states actually are looking to very strong economic ties with russia. germany, for example, has just completed the first branch of its gas pipeline, the nord stream two, which is going to bring russian gas right into germany.
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so this notion that you can at same time talk very tough with putin and get him away from any sort of regional aggression, and at the same time have a very warm dialogue and economic ties with him, it really seems like an incoherent set of signals to moscow. no. for me, dialogue is not a sign of weakness. for me, dialogue is a sign of strength. as long as we are strong, as long as we are united, and as long as we do exactly what we do now in nato, that we reinforce our collective defence, we can talk to russia. and we need to talk to russia, because russia is our neighbour, we need to strive for a better relationship, but even without a better relationship in the foreseeable future, we need to manage a difficult relationship. so in one way it's even more important to talk to them now when the tensions are high and we see more military presence around our borders, just to prevent incidents and accidents. we need what you call transparency and risk reduction to prevent dangerous
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accidents from happening. and if they happen, prevent them from spiralling out of control and really create dangerous situations. and then we need to talk with russia on issues like, for instance, arms control, the extension on the new start agreement, the long—range nuclear weapons, is extremely important. but that is just the first step. we need to include more weapons systems and new technologies in future arms control. and i'm absolutely confident that that will be, arms control will be one of the important issues in the conversations between president biden and president putin, and all nato allied leaders welcomed the opportunity to sit down with president biden before the meeting with president putin to consult on these issues, which are important for all of us. let's now shift focus to some
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of those wider issues we talked about at the beginning. why did the nato summit communique present china as, quote, "a systemic challenge "to the rules—based international order."? because we see that china does not share our values. we see that there is authoritarian pushback against the rules—based order by russia and china. of course, we need to engage with china. so, mr sec gen, does turkey right now represent your values? does hungary represent your values? does nato have a coherent set of values? so, first of all, i think it's meaningless to compare hungary and turkey and china when it comes to democratic values. second, there are concerns that have been raised. i raised them myself also, in meetings in ankara. and i think that nato is an important platform to discuss these issues when there are concerns about to what extent all of us live up to the values enshrined in our washington treaty, democracy, rule of law and individual liberty. but that's a very different thing than to address the authoritarian regime in beijing, where they're using violence in cracking down on democratic protests in hong kong, where they are persecuting ethnic and religious minorities, as we see against the uighurs, and also the coercive behaviour
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they have demonstrated in the south china sea, or the way they treat countries. like, for instance, canada or australia, when they don't behave the way beijing likes. interesting... and then we have to understand that china is... you've raised so many issues there. let's just stop for a second and think about it. i mean, some in europe think that when you start to take a stand against china, as you've just done with me, you are doing joe biden�*s bidding because there's no question, for america, china is the long—term strategic threat, much more important than russia. and this is what emmanuel macron, president of france, said after the summit. he said nato is an organisation that concerns the north atlantic, and china has little to do with the north atlantic. "it is very important..." said president macron, .that we don't scatter ourselves "and we don't bias our future relationship with china." first of all, what i reflect
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is what all allies have agreed. and one of the important decisions we made at this summit was that we agreed on a unified, clear position on china and all allies agreed to that. second, yes, nato is an alliance of north america and europe, a transatlantic alliance, but we are affected by global threats and challenges, including china. it's not about... macron�*s point is... forgive me, but macron�*s point is, "we in nato have many serious challenges close to home, "not least with vladimir putin. "we must not. to quote macron, "we must not distract ourselves by getting involved..." ..on the level you have with china. first of all, we all agreed on the message from the summit. and you just quoted from that statement, or the communique. and second, nato doesn't have the luxury of choosing either one or another threat or challenge. we need to address russia's
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aggressive actions, but we also need to address the security consequences of the rise of china. we cannot choose, we don't have that luxury. second, this is not about moving nato to asia. this is about that, in this region, we are faced with the challenges that the rise of china poses to us. we see them coming closer to us at home. trying to control critical infrastructure like the, for instance, the 5g networks, investing heavily in other parts of our critical infrastructure. we see them in africa, we see them in the arctic, we see them in cyberspace, and we need to respond to that. and the main message actually from the summit on monday was that we should do that together as an alliance, because no country, no continent, can manage this alone. we need to be together as nato, because then we represent, 50% of the world's military might and 50% of the economic might, and that makes a big difference. do you not think it's possible, mr secretary general, that in beijing they are listening
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to you talking about nato�*s need to be truly global and then they look at the reality of nato, for example, in afghanistan, where you are now pulling out because of the american decision to get all us forces out by september of this year? nato is following suit. nato is basically leaving afghanistan in a terrible mess. surely that tells beijing that despite all of your words about globalised commitments and dealing with threats, wherever they may be, you're not serious. you couldn't sustain your mission in afghanistan. first, nato�*s not going to be a global alliance, but nato as a north atlantic alliance, has to deal with global threats and challenges. and that's two very different things. yes, but that's my point. you saw a specific threat in afghanistan, tied to the taliban, tied to the fear of it being a hotbed of international terror. you have been there off the back of the us intervention for the best part
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of two decades. and now you're leaving because the americans are leaving. but nobody in the world believes that the threat from both the taliban and possibly from international terror groups as well, has gone away. in fact, it may well get very much worse once you've gone. 0n afghanistan, it's correct that we have decided to end our military mission after two decades. and i have been very open, and we have all been very clear—eyed about the risks that decision entails. at the same time, the intention was never to be there forever. we have, over the last years, gradually reduced our presence from more than 100,000 in the combat operation to now ending the mission. but we are not ending our support for the afghans. we will continue to provide funding for the afghan security forces, which we have trained and build from almost nothing to now around 300,000 professional security forces. second, we will work on how we can provide out—of—country
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training for the afghan forces. and thirdly, we are looking into how we now can maintain critical infrastructure like the airport and also some medical facilities and other ways to support continued civilian presence in afghanistan. but there are risks. absolutely, and there's a very difficult situation in afghanistan. but to continue an open—ended mission in afghanistan would also had entailed risks for more fighting, more casualties and even a need for increased nato presence. so after broad consultations between all our allies with three ministerial meetings, many meetings here at nato with the ambassadors, nato allies made this decision together. not an easy decision, but there are no easy options in afghanistan. mr secretary general, you're leaving your post
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in roughly a year from now. you have big ambitions for nato�*s strategic vision. you've mentioned everything from taking on china, to cyber and even space as a new frontier for nato. and yet nato still isn't financing itself in terms of commitments from its member states. most member states are still not meeting the threshold that nato requires from them for defence spending. ambition is one thing. reality is quite another, isn't it? well, allies are delivering. also, we made the commitment in 2014 to increase defence spending, and since then, we have had seven consecutive years of increased defence spending across europe and canada. and that's actually really a change in trend, because before that, we had a reduction in defence spending, now we have had seven consecutive years of increased defence spending. in total... two thirds of your members are still not meeting the requirement. and my point is your ambitions seem to be getting ever wider.
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there's a bit of a disconnect there. well, my ambition is exactly the same as it's been for nato always, and that is that we need to protect allies. but since the threats are changing, of course, we need to do that in a different way than we did ten years or 20 years ago. that's obvious. so the core task is exactly the same, but the environment, the threats we are faced with, are different. second, they have, the european allies and canada added 260 billion extra us dollars. for me, that demonstrates that this is not only a commitment to transatlantic unity, to our collective defence, in words or rhetoric, it is also in deeds. $260 billion is very concrete and it enables us to invest in new military capabilities. yes, you're right that it's not all allies are at 2%, but when they made the decision in 2014, there's was only three. now there are 10 allies at 2%. and also those who are not yet
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at 2%, the majority have plans in place to be there in 2024, which was the aim, we agreed in 2014. so we're on a good track. and the summit this week demonstrated the unity and actually opens a new chapter in our transatlantic alliance. jens stoltenberg, we're out of time, but i thank you very much indeed forjoining me on hardtalk. thank you. thank you so much for having me, stephen. hello again. tuesday was another very warm day across england and wales. temperatures peaked at 27 degrees celsius. that's just two down from the hottest day of the year, which was at the start of the week on monday. and as i say, england and wales enjoyed a lot of sunshine. scotland and northern ireland, a different story.
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we had rain, and that band of rain continues to push its way eastwards over the next few hours whilst weakening, so the rain will become a lighter and patchier. across the board, temperatures staying up into double figures as we head into the first part of wednesday morning. now, this front is a cold front, and it's an important one. very weak, it will bring just a few patches of rain across north west england and north west wales. sunny spells for scotland and northern ireland, a few isolate showers. dry picture for east wales and most of england with lots of sunshine. but it's this front that separates the fresh air in the north west from the increasingly humid air across east wales and england. and big temperature contrasts, too. perhaps 18 degrees across the north west of the uk. across east wales and into the heart of england, temperatures well up into the mid—20s, the high 20s in places. but as we head into wednesday night, the atmosphere will become very volatile and will go bang. yes, the first batch
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of thunderstorms, the first batch of quite a few thunderstorms, will be working in on wednesday night, pushing in perhaps across east wales, certainly getting parts of england. and those storms will tend to clear north—eastwards as we go through thursday, with the weather settling down to a degree. still fresh air across the north west, still quite humid across parts of eastern england. some uncertainty with the temperatures. depends, really, how much sunshine we get through some of that highest cloud across eastern areas, but it could potentially be a bit warmer than that. 0n into friday, well, another batch of storms is going to be heading in from france. again, it's mainly targeting england. that will tend to push its way northwards as we go through friday night, with the weather again settling down, calming down to a degree as we head into saturday. and then we do it all again. saturday night sees another batch of storms come through. this area of storms is probably going to be a little bit more widespread as it works its way northwards, joining forces with an atlantic weather front in the west. and that area of rain, thundery at times, will push northwards on sunday. so, we've got several bouts of thunderstorms coming our way over the next few days. the biggest of those could bring, well, nearly
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a month's worth of rain injust a few hours. flash flooding is possible.
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this is bbc news. i'm david eades — our top stories: joe biden arrives in geneva ahead of his summit with president putin. both sides agree relations are at a new low. israel launches airstrikes against hamas targets on the gaza strip, the first major flare—up since last month's ceasefire. as iran prepares to head to the polls, we meet the voters who've become disenchanted with this election. a french court finds the swedish furniture giant ikea guilty of illegally spying on hundreds of its own employees. and is covid—19 about to engulf the copa america? yet more people involved in the tournament test positive.


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