Germany, France and Poland: This moment may define our children’s future

That is why, on its 75th anniversary, we reiterate NATO’s founding principle: An attack against one of us is considered an attack against all. One for all and all for one. Together, we will defend every inch of NATO territory and stand united against any future Russian aggression.

For years, Putin has spread lies and false narratives to justify his war. One of these narratives is that NATO represents a threat to Russia. But the opposite is true: Today, nations are again joining NATO because they feel threatened by Russia. Finland and Sweden had long held a proud tradition of neutrality. However, following Putin’s invasion of a peaceful neighbor, they exercised their sovereign right to freely choose alliances and have now fortified our ranks.

For Europe to be at peace, Russian imperialism must be stopped. We cannot allow for any “gray zones” because Putin sees them as an invitation to undermine territorial integrity and sovereignty, draw imaginary lines on the map and, ultimately, use military force. His full-scale invasion of Ukraine has also proven that a policy of concessions vis-à-vis Russia, in the hopes that it could bring peace or stability back to the Continent, is naive.

This is why European allies should shoulder their fair share of NATO’s collective burden and demonstrate readiness to take more responsibility for Europe’s defense. The enduring transatlantic bond remains the bedrock of our security, and we Europeans must address some of the most urgent shortcomings that have become painfully obvious during the past months and years: capability gaps, the readiness of our forces, production capacity, logistics, standardization and interoperability.

Flags of NATO member countries outside NATO headquarters on March 11, 2024 in Brussels | Omar Havana/Getty Images

The U.S. has long taken on more of the burden than the rest of our Alliance. But collective defense is our collective effort. In that respect, we reaffirm the importance of a stronger and more capable European defense — one that contributes positively to global and transatlantic security and is both complementary to and interoperable with NATO.

To take on this greater responsibility for our joint security, we European allies should take the following steps:

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