NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin “made a big strategic mistake” in invading Ukraine.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday, Stoltenberg noted that Putin wanted a weak NATO with fewer troops near Russia’s borders, but his actions have strengthened the alliance and is in the process of increasing its membership after Sweden and Finland announced their intention to join NATO.
The Secretary General noted he’s confident the alliance will be able to welcome Finland and Sweden, despite the objections of Turkey.
“Finland and Sweden’s decision to apply for NATO membership is historic. It demonstrates that European security will not be dictated by violence and intimidation,” he stated.
Stoltenberg reiterated that, while dealing with authoritarian regimes such as Russia, it is vital that world leaders should not trade long-term security needs for short-term economic interests. He stated economic relationships with regimes such as in Russia create an over-reliance on key commodities, such as energy. He also mentioned the example of how sharing technology, such as artificial intelligence, which is vital to modern weaponry, can undermine military strength.
“Freedom is more important than free trade,” Stoltenberg stated. “The protection of our values is more important than profit.”
“President Putin’s war on Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe. It is really a game-changer. Not just for European security, but for the global order,” he continued.