Spooked by Russia’s actions against Ukraine and what the Kremlin may attempt in the future, European Union defense ministers agreed Tuesday to step up cooperation with the U.S.-led NATO defense alliance. . . .
“We need to train and exercise more together, for instance the NATO Response Force and the EU battlegroups, so that we stand ready for whatever the future may bring,” [NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh] Rasmussen told journalists. . . .
EU officials said Rasmussen found a receptive audience. Gen. Patrick de Rousiers of France, chairman of the EU’s Military Committee, said defense ministers in the ensuing discussion appeared in the main to endorse “an increase of relations between the European Union and NATO in all areas,” from development of military capabilities to preparation for and involvement in actual operations.
Maciej Popowski, deputy head of the EU’s External Action Service, said the recent actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government have galvanized EU member governments to “get real” about commitments to defense that many European countries previously made, but let slide in large part because of tough economic times. . . .
“People have a tendency to take security in Europe for granted. But it requires constant commitment and constant, continuous investment,” he [Popowski] said.