NATO chief says trade ties with authoritarian regimes have vulnerabilities; clubs China with Russia

DAVOS: Asserting that freedom is more important than free trade, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said the Ukraine war has taught the world that having economic dependencies on authoritarian regimes have huge vulnerabilities and listed China as an example of authoritarian government.
Addressing the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022 here, he also said NATO is committed to continue supporting Ukraine but ruled out its direct involvement in the war by sending NATO troops there.
“We have provided our support to Ukraine since 2014, which has been stepped up now. We will continue to support, but we will not be directly involved in the war by sending NATO troops there. This is not to provoke, but to ensure that every ally is protected,” he said.
Stoltenberg said the war in Ukraine demonstrates how economic relations with authoritarian regimes can create vulnerabilities — over-reliance on the import of key commodities like energy, risks created by exporting advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence, and weakened resilience caused by foreign control over critical infrastructure like 5G.
“This is about Russia. But also about China. Another authoritarian regime that does not share our values. And that undermines the rules-based international order,” he said.
While noting that international trade has undoubtedly brought great prosperity, Stoltenberg said, “I, and many of us here today, have worked hard to promote a more globalised economy but we must recognise that our economic choices have consequences for our security.”
“Freedom is more important than free trade. The protection of our values is more important than profit,” he said.
Further, he said trading with China has huge benefits but when it comes to the 5G network, it involves security concerns and that cannot be ignored.
“Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe. Since Russia’s invasion, we have significantly stepped up our support. NATO’s main responsibility is to protect its allies and stop this war from escalating,” he said.
At NATO, we collected intelligence and made public our information about Russia’s plans to attack Ukraine, he said.
“Since the first invasion of Ukraine in 2014, NATO has been keeping an eye. When Russia invaded Ukraine again this year, we stepped up our support. We also have 1,00,000 troops on high alert to respond for any attack on NATO territory,” he added.

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