NATO Summit Latest Updates: Cyberthreats From Russia, China Are Main Concerns for Allies

Live Updates

NATO leaders have focused on recommitting to open dialogue and collective action among allies at Monday's summit in Brussels.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said leaders of the 30 member nations are meeting "at a pivotal moment for our alliance, and today we'll open a new chapter in our transatlantic relationship."

Several leaders have signaled a new era of cooperation with U.S. President Joe Biden.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that "we're coming out of turbulent times, where we had major disagreements on a lot of things that are really at the basis of this alliance."

Threats from Russia and China remain a top priority. A communiqué released by NATO said that "Russia's aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security."

The document added that "China's growing influence and international policies can present challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance."

Biden has met with the leaders of Poland, Romania and the three Baltic nations to discuss "political, military and economic partnerships" and his intentions for his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in two days.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to smooth out relations.

NATO Secretary General Speaks at Summit
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference Monday during the alliance's summit in Brussels. Leaders of NATO countries warned Russia there could be no return to normal relations between Moscow and the alliance until it complies with international law. They also said China's increasingly aggressive behavior, including cyberwarfare and building nuclear warheads, poses "systemic challenges" to international law and security. OLIVIER HOSLET/AFP via Getty Images

The live updates for this event have concluded.

President Joe Biden visited the NATO headquarters' 9/11 memorial in Brussels to conclude his visit to Monday's summit.

He stood for a moment of silence in front of a twisted steel beam from the World Trade Center's Twin Towers.

NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg joined him shortly after and they shook hands.

Exiting @NATO HQ, @POTUS walked to the 9/11 Memorial where he stood silent for
a moment. @jensstoltenberg came to join him. They shook hands but their conversation was inaudible except at one point the president exclaimed: “NATO, NATO.”

— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) June 14, 2021

The memorial is a tribute to NATO's provided support to the U.S. following the attacks on September 11, 2001.

NATO sent thousands of its troops from allied countries into Afghanistan after the 2001 attacks.

President Biden pays a visit to the 9/11 memorial at NATO HQ in Brussels.

It is a piece of twisted steel from the World Trade Center. NATO’s mutual defense pact, Article 5, was invoked that day

— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) June 14, 2021

Following President Joe Biden's first NATO summit, he said that members of NATO agreed that among the "most important shared missions is renewing and strengthening the resilience of our democracies."

"We have to prove to the world and to our own people that democracy can still prevail against the challenges of our time and deliver the needs of our people," he said.

Biden called for rooting out "corruption" and to "guard against those who would stoke hatred and division" and "phony populism."

He also urged for investing in strengthening institutions that "underpin and safeguard" democratic values as well as protecting the free press and independent judiciaries.

"All of those are on the agenda," Biden said. "That's how we'll prove that democracy and that our alliance can still prevail against the challenges of our time, deliver for the needs and the needs of our people."

He added that NATO's actions are going to be looked at years from now as to whether or not its leaders stepped up to the challenge.

Biden said that NATO's members are determined to prove autocracies wrong before he stopped to take questions.

He issued a tweet following his comments where he said it was "an honor" to be at NATO's headquarters Monday.

The Transatlantic Alliance is the strong foundation on which our collective security and our shared prosperity are built. It’s an honor to be at NATO HQ today, reaffirming America’s commitment to our 29 Allies and our vision for a more secure future.

— President Biden (@POTUS) June 14, 2021
U.S. President Joe Biden After NATO Summit
US President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference after the NATO summit at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels, on June 14, 2021. Francisco Seco/AFP via Getty Images

In a press conference after the NATO summit, U.S. President Joe Biden discussed his hopes for his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"What I'll convey to President Putin is that I'm not looking for conflict with Russia, but that we will respond if Russia continues its harmful activities," Biden said.

He added that the U.S. will continue to defend its trans-Atlantic alliance, stand up for democratic values and support the "sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine."

Biden would not share details of what he will discuss with Putin.

"I'll tell you when it's over," he told reporters. He added that the last thing he wants to do is negotiate "how to approach a critical meeting with a potential adversary" in front of the world's press.

"I'm going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate, if he chooses, and if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past relative to cybersecurity and some other activities, then we will respond. We will respond in kind," Biden said.

He said that he has spoken with Putin in the past and described him as "bright, tough and a worthy adversary."

"We should decide where it's in our mutual interest and the interest of the world to cooperate and see if we can do that," Biden said. "And the areas where we don't agree, make it clear what the red lines are."

Biden said all the leaders he spoke with today thanked him for meeting with the Kremlin.

Asked if there were concerns about him meeting with Vladimir Putin early in his administration, Pres. Biden says every world leader who spoke at NATO summit "thanked me for meeting with Putin now. Every single one that spoke."

— ABC News (@ABC) June 14, 2021

When asked about the implication for U.S.-Russia relations if jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny were to die in prison, Biden said Navalny's death would be a "tragedy.

"Navalny's death would be another indication that Russia has little or no intention of abiding by basic, fundamental human rights," he said. "It would be a tragedy. It would do nothing but hurt [Putin's] relationships with the rest of the world, in my view."

President Biden said he had a "very good meeting" with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the NATO summit.

According to Erdogan, the meeting was constructive and invited Biden to visit Turkey, the Associated Press reports.

Erdogan mentioned that Turkey would expect "diplomatic, logistical and financial" assistance from the United States if it will maintain a presence in Afghanistan after NATO troops are withdrawn.

President @RTErdogan, who is in Brussels for NATO Leaders’ Summit, met with President Joe Biden of the US.

— Turkish Presidency (@trpresidency) June 14, 2021

He also mentioned that he and Biden are in the same place they were before in relation to Turkey's purchase of the S-400 advanced Russian missile defense systems.

"Our thoughts on the S-400 are the same as before, I relayed our same thoughts to Mr. Biden," Erdogan said.

The U.S. said that technology is a threat to NATO and removed Turkey from its F-35 fighter jet program.

Erdogan also called for an end to U.S. support to the Syrian Kurdish militia, which Turkey considers to be "terrorists" affiliated with a Kurdish insurgency.

After NATO leaders declared China as a "challenge" to the allied nations, French President Emmanuel Macron tried to downplay the alliance's warning.

"I think it is very important not to scatter our efforts and not to have biases in our relation to China," Macron said in a news conference Monday. "It's much broader than the military topic. It's economic, strategic, about values and technological."

Macron said China is both a "competitor" and "major power with which we are working on global issues to move forward together."

He added that he does not want the focus on China to "divert us from the heart of NATO's tasks."

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said President Biden and other leaders made "strong commitments" to NATO at the summit.

"All leaders agreed that in an age of global competition Europe and North America must stand strong together in NATO, to defend our values and our interests, especially at a time when authoritarian regimes, like Russia and China, challenge the rules-based international order," he told reporters.

Stoltenberg also said Russia cannot influence Ukraine's decision to join NATO.

"Every nation has the right to choose its own path," he told journalists after the NATO summit. "The message is that it is for Ukraine and the 30 allies to decide when Ukraine can become a NATO member."

He said that Russia cannot "veto" its neighbors' decisions.

"We will not return to an age when we had big powers who decided what neighbors could do," Stoltenberg said. "This is about fundamental principles of accepting the right of every nation to decide, so it's for the 30 allies and Ukraine to decide when Ukraine is ready for membership."

NATO leaders agreed "that the impact of significant malicious cumulative cyber activities might, in certain circumstances, be considered as amounting to an armed attack." This means cyberattacks could warrant the use of the organization's Article 5 mutual self-defense clause.

The North Atlantic Council will decide on a case-by-case basis when a cyberattack would lead to the invocation of Article 5, according to a statement released by NATO leaders.

"We will make greater use of NATO as a platform for political consultation among Allies, sharing concerns about malicious cyber activities, and exchanging national approaches and responses, as well as considering possible collective responses," the joint communiqué said. "If necessary, we will impose costs on those who harm us."

The alliance noted that cyberthreats to security are "complex, destructive, coercive, and becoming ever more frequent."

"This has been recently illustrated by ransomware incidents and other malicious cyber activity targeting our critical infrastructure and democratic institutions, which might have systemic effects and cause significant harm," the joint communiqué said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said there is "no way" NATO can ignore China's economic and military rise.

"China is soon to be the biggest economy in the world, they already have the second biggest defense budget and hold the biggest navy," Stoltenberg told reporters after the summit. "They are investing heavily in new modern capabilities, including by investing in new destructive technologies, such as autonomous systems, facial recognition and artificial intelligence and putting them into different weapons systems that are really in the process of changing the nature of warfare in a way we have hardly seen before."

Now that there is a "united and clear position" that China is a security threat, Stoltenberg said NATO leaders must find a way to address that.

The Chinese Embassy in the U.K. recently called the Group of Seven's post-summit statement about human rights abuses in China "distorted."

The G-7 leaders called out China's "nonmarket policies and human rights abuses" and agreed to call on Beijing to respect the human rights of the Uighur minority group in Xinjiang and the people in Hong Kong.

An embassy official said these remakes "slandered China and arbitrarily interfered in China's internal affairs.''

"This serious violation of the basic norms of international relations exposed the sinister intentions of a few countries, such as the United States,'' an unnamed embassy spokesperson said in the statement. "We are strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposed to this."

NATO leaders have largely backed the U.S. decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, despite reports of tension, a senior administration official told CNN.

"Each of them said that they ultimately agreed with the decision to draw down this year. They understood that the time has come," the official, who was present at the talks in Brussels, said. "And the real focus in the room was not on the question of staying or going in 2021, the real focus was on how we work together as an alliance to continue to provide support to the Afghan national security forces, the Afghan government and the Afghan people."

NATO leaders also agreed to continue to provide support to Afghanistan after troops are withdrawn.

According to the summit communiqué, the leaders will provide "transitional funding" to maintain operations at the international airport in Kabul, retain a Senior Civilian Representative Office in the Afghan capital and provide "training and financial support to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, including through the Afghan National Army Trust Fund."

"We continue to support the ongoing Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process, and call on all stakeholders to help Afghanistan foster a lasting inclusive political settlement that puts an end to violence; safeguards the human rights of Afghans, particularly women, children, and minorities; upholds the rule of law; and ensures that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists," NATO leaders also said in the communiqué.

NATO leaders have issued a communiqué labeling Russia a "threat" and noting the "challenges" posed by China.

"We face multifaceted threats, systemic competition from assertive and authoritarian powers, as well as growing security challenges to our countries and our citizens from all strategic directions," the communiqué reads. "Russia's aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security."

The statement added that "China's growing influence and international policies" could present challenges that the allied nations need to address together.

"We will engage China with a view to defending the security interests of the Alliance," the statement said.

The full communiqué can be read here.

President Joe Biden met Monday with leaders of Poland and Romania at the NATO summit.

Biden discussed his intentions for his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and offered a commitment to "stand up at the face of the threat posed by Russia," according to officials.

"President Biden spoke today on the margins of the NATO Summit with President Andrzej Duda of Poland," an official readout says. "The President reiterated his support for NATO's strengthened defense and deterrence agenda and his resolute commitment to the defense of Allies on NATO's eastern flank, including Poland. He discussed his plans for the upcoming summit with President Putin."

Biden has also spoken to the prime ministers of Spain and the Netherlands, as well as other G7 leaders, at the summit, according to the Associated Press.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday he wants to revive a dialogue between Turkey and Greece to promote "stability and prosperity" in the region.

Last year, there were disputes between the two nations over boundaries and the rights to natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean.

"I believe that reviving the channels of dialogue between [Turkey] and our neighbor and ally Greece and the resolution of bilateral issues will...serve the stability and prosperity of our region," Erdogan said.

During a German Marshall Fund of the United States think tank event, held at NATO's headquarters in Brussels, Erdogan also said there was a lack of support from NATO allies in Turkey's fight against terrorism.

"Turkey is the only NATO ally which has fought face-to-face and gave [its] young sons martyrs for this cause," Erdogan said. "Unfortunately, we did not receive the support and solidarity we expected from our allies and partners in our fight against all forms of terrorism."

French President Emmanuel Macron said he wants to "move forward" with Turkey toward "clarity and respect" after meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit.

En amont du sommet de l'OTAN, j’ai eu un long échange en tête-à-tête avec le Président Erdogan. Pour avancer avec clarté, respect et exigence.

— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 14, 2021

The leaders discussed Libya and Syria, and Macron wants all NATO allies to make a clear commitment to the alliance's values, principles and rules, according to the French president's office.

Macron also emphasized France's secularism and respect for all religions, including Islam. Last year, Erdogan criticized Macron's attitude toward Muslims after the French leader proposed measures to defend his country's secular values against radical Islam.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also met with Erdogan.

"The prime minister and president discussed the fight against coronavirus and their countries' respective vaccine rollouts," a Downing Street spokesperson said. "They agreed on the importance of working together to defeat the pandemic and work towards the resumption of travel between the U.K. and Turkey."

The leaders also talked about a range of foreign policy issues and "agreed to work to deepen the relationship between the U.K. and Turkey in a range of areas including trade and defense."

"The prime minister welcomed the de-escalation of tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and stressed the importance of reaching a settlement in Cyprus through the U.N.-led process," the spokesperson said.

NATO leaders are looking ahead to a new relationship with the U.S. after former President Donald Trump, who was known for berating some of the alliance's nations during his time in office.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said, "We're coming out of turbulent times where we had major disagreements on a lot of things that are really at the basis of this alliance."

He added, "I think now we are ready to turn the page."

Italian Premier Mario Draghi also criticized the former U.S. president ahead of the summit.

"This summit is a continuation of yesterday's G7 and is part of the process of reaffirming, of rebuilding the fundamental alliances of the United States that had been weakened by the previous administration," he said. "Think that President Biden's first visit is to Europe, and try to remember where President Trump's first visit was.

Trump's first overseas trip as president was to Saudi Arabia.

"We are here to reaffirm these alliances but also to reaffirm the importance of the European Union in all of this. A stronger European Union means a stronger NATO," Draghi added.

As the first session of the NATO summit gets underway, President Joe Biden spoke Monday with the leaders of the three Baltic nations.

Biden met with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas of Estonia, President Egils Levits of Latvia and President Gitanas Nauseda of Lithuania and "underscored strong U.S. support" for their nations' security, the White House said.

"The four leaders committed to further strengthening our political, military and economic partnerships, including working together through NATO to address challenges posed by Russia and China," the White House said.

Biden is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Geneva.