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Proposed EU military force would ‘divide Europe’, warns Nato’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg

Brussels using Afghanistan’s fall to push for a united rapid reaction force – Jens Stoltenberg says it would overstretch ‘scarce resources’

This article for the Telegraph dated 4th September 2021 (and re-published by is based on an interview with the NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg and makes these points:

A new European Union military force advocated by senior EU officials after the fall of Afghanistan would weaken the transatlantic alliance and “divide Europe”, Nato’s secretary general has warned.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Jens Stoltenberg said that while he welcomed “more European efforts on defence” a planned EU rapid reaction force risked overstretching the “scarce resources” of Nato allies.

The former Norwegian prime minister, who has been taking part in G7 leaders’ discussions on Afghanistan, also claimed that failures by the country’s former political and military leaders were a key factor in the “sudden collapse” of Ashraf Ghani’s regime, saying that there were “no clear plans to defend the country” and Afghan soldiers “didn’t get paid... didn’t get ammunition”.

Separately, Mr Stoltenberg said “many questions” should be asked about whether Pakistan or its military had aided the Taliban’s efforts, as he said that the “special relationship” between the country and the Taliban “of course... is part of the story”.

His intervention comes after senior EU figures said that the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan showed that the EU needed to be able to act independently from the US.

The article ends with these words which includes praise for British troops

Last month, Sir Richard Dearlove, a former head of MI6, said that the Taliban could not have completed their takeover of Afghanistan without backing from Pakistan. Asked about the allegations, Mr Stoltenberg said: “I will be careful about speculating too much. I think we should be willing to ask many questions, because there are obviously things that didn’t work as they should.”

He added: “We all know that Pakistan has a special relationship, a longstanding relationship with the Taliban that that the Taliban leadership operated in Pakistan. They stayed there for many, many years. So of course, that’s part of the story, the fact that the Taliban was able to operate from Pakistan.”

Mr Stoltenberg separately echoed remarks by Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, who has said that Britain will need to work with China and Russia to exert influence over the Taliban. “I strongly agree that the whole international community, including Russia and China, needs to work to prevent Afghanistan being a place where terrorist groups can operate freely and prepare, organise, plan, finance attacks against our own countries,” he said.

Mr Stoltenberg praised the role of British troops in the evacuation, saying: “It is critical, and this is from the bottom of my heart, also to praise the United Kingdom and the efforts of British soldiers in conducting the evacuation. That was a massive undertaking.”

Here is the article in pdf:

Proposed EU military force would ‘divide Europe’, warns Nato’s secretary general - for the
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