David Cameron spoke on Russia, reforms of NATO, defence spending, future threats and the Military Covenant at the end of the NATO summit.
This Summit has shown a real sense of purpose, resolution and unity. Everyone can see what NATO stands for and why it matters. It is about, here at home, our national security – and the security of every family in Britain.
This is an Alliance that is strong and united. That knows what the major challenges are and is determined to overcome them.
First, there has been a clear message sent out from this conference to Russia that what President Putin is doing is indefensible and wrong. While we meet here in Newport, a package of sanctions is being finalised in Brussels that will further increase the economic cost to Russia for its behaviour.
We stand firmly behind Ukraine’s right to make its own decisions, not to have them dictated by Russian tanks rolling over the border. And we will continue our efforts to support Ukraine, including by providing financial assistance to improve their command, control and communication capabilities.
NATO members right across Europe – particularly in Central and Eastern Europe – have been reassured that this is an Alliance that will meet its treaty obligations to any member under threat. No-one will leave here with any doubt that our collective security in NATO is as strong as it has ever been. The Alliance is firmly committed to providing ongoing reassurance to our Eastern Allies.
The UK will contribute 3,500 personnel to exercises in Eastern Europe between now and the end of 2015 as part of NATO’s effort to ensure a persistent presence on our Eastern flank. We have also agreed to step up NATO’s ability to respond quickly to any threat with a new multi-national spearhead force which is deployable anywhere in the world within 2 to 5 days.
The UK will provide a battlegroup and a brigade headquarters and I hope other nations will set out their plans too, backing communiqué words with concrete action.
Reform of NATO
Second, NATO needs to be even stronger. Britain is one of only four countries that currently spends 2% of its GDP on defence. But others will now do more.
With today’s Wales Pledge every NATO member not spending 2% will halt any decline in defence spending and aim to increase it in real terms as GDP grows, and to move towards 2% within a decade. But it’s not just the amount of money that matters; it’s also about spending on equipment you can actually deploy. So we have agreed that a fifth of defence budgets should be dedicated to major new equipment.
Here in Britain we have the second largest defence budget in NATO; we have the biggest in the whole of the European Union. We have taken long term, often difficult, decisions to put our defence budget on a sustainable footing. And the fruits of this are now coming through.
We are equipping all 3 of our services with the best and most modern military hardware money can buy. On Wednesday I announced a £3.5 billion contract for Scout armoured vehicles for the Army, the largest such order in over three decades.
The Royal Air Force is getting new fleets of Joint Strike Fighter and Voyager refuelling aircraft as well as 22 new A400M transport aircraft – the first of which has just arrived.
The Royal Navy is receiving new Astute hunter killer submarines and Type 45 Destroyers, including HMS Duncan here in Cardiff Bay. There will also be new Type 26 Frigates too. All of these decisions have been made possible by taking the difficult long term approach that I’ve spoken about.
And of course we have our brand new aircraft carrier – HMS Queen Elizabeth – that was named by Her Majesty in July and has now left her dry dock and is being fitted with her combat systems. She will be the mightiest ship the Royal Navy has ever put to sea, able to protect and project our interests across the globe for decades to come.
And today I can announce that the second carrier – HMS Prince of Wales – will also be brought into service. This will ensure that will always have one carrier available, 100% of the time.
They are an investment in British security, in British prosperity and our place in the world, transforming our ability to project power globally whether independently or with our allies.
Now third, we were clear about the new threats we face, principally Islamist extremism. Everyone remembers the divisions around the world over the Iraq War ten years ago.There were no real divisions here.
The NATO Alliance is clear about the threat that we face. The scale of that threat and the fact that we must use all the instruments at our disposal – humanitarian, diplomatic and military. We have agreed to offer a NATO training mission for Iraq as soon as the new Iraqi government is in place.
The fight against ISIL must be led by the Iraqis themselves. But we will continue to encourage countries in the region to support this effort and we’ll continue to work with our partners on the ground to take all necessary steps to squeeze this barbaric terrorist organisation out of existence. This will take time and it will take resolve.
We will proceed carefully and methodically, drawing together the partners we need, above all in the region, to implement a comprehensive plan.
Now fourth, as our troops return from Afghanistan so it is right that we do all we can to support them and their families. We are the first British government to write the Military Covenant - the deal between Britain and her military - into the law of our land.
We have doubled the operational allowance for our service personnel introduced free higher and further education scholarships for bereaved service children. Invested £200 million in helping our service personnel to buy homes. Increased the rate of council tax relief. Signed up every local council in our country in support and given unprecedented support to military charities.
Today we have taken this Covenant internationally; with every NATO Member signing up to a new Armed Forces Declaration to honour and look after those whose work and sacrifices have delivered our peace and security over the last 65 years. And there’s a commitment there for all of us to work together to ask what more we can do in future years to honour, revere those who serve us, and their families.
So we leave Celtic Manor today united in purpose and with a stronger NATO, better able to keep our people safe.
I would like to thank everyone who has helped to make this Summit possible. But most of all, the people of Wales who have welcomed the world and I believe done our United Kingdom and NATO proud.