NATO Secretary-General has warned that countries need to put values before profits considering the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, which highlights economic concerns.
The Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg said that the invasion showed “how economic relations with authoritarian regimes can create vulnerabilities”. His speech, which he delivered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, singled out trade with Russia and China in particular.
Mr. Stoltenberg said this as he pointed to issues such as Russia’s dominance over Europe’s gas supply, as well as bids from Chinese companies to run 5G networks.
Mr. Stoltenberg disclosed to people gathered at the event that “International trade has undoubtedly brought great prosperity but we must recognise that our economic choices have consequences for our security”. He went ahead to say that “Freedom is more important than free trade. The protection of our values is more important than profit”.
One of the Major Concerns
He pointed out that the fact that European countries could buy as much gas as they wanted from Moscow was “wrong” and “dangerous”.
“It provides Russia with a tool to intimidate and to use against us, and that has been clearly demonstrated now, I regret to say.”NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg
Europe has been accused of helping fund Moscow’s war in Ukraine through its payment for energy, and as a result, it is currently taking steps to reduce its reliance on Russian gas imports by two thirds by the end of 2022.
Meanwhile, Russia has cut off gas and electricity supplies to Finland after the neighbouring country announced their decision to join NATO. Poland and Bulgaria on the other hand also saw their gas supplies cut off after refusing to pay in Russian Roubles.
Mr. Stoltenberg also noted that the new 5G networks are part of countries’ “critical infrastructure” and control of the networks is “of vital security importance”.
“We cannot say that in the interest of profits and free trade we just open up those networks also for suppliers that actually are not reliable when it comes to our security.”NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg
The Fear Factor
As it stands, there are fears heightening in recent years over the Chinese companies’ involvement in telecom networks.
The UK, US, Australia and New Zealand, already placed bans on China’s biggest telecom equipment makers getting involved in 5G networks. Canada is the latest country to announce a ban. Last week, Canada’s authority disclosed that it would help “protect the safety and security of Canadians”. The companies have said the move is purely political. However, Mr Stoltenberg was quick to point out that he is not arguing against trading with China.
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