“NATO is able and ready to defend all allies, including Turkey, against any threat,” Jens Stoltenberg said from the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels as defense ministers gathered for a meeting.
“In Syria, we have seen a troubling escalation of Russian military activities,” he added.
Stoltenberg accused Russia of violating Turkish airspace during bombing runs against anti-government rebels in Syria earlier this week. On Wednesday, the Pentagon said it diverted at least one U.S. aircraft to avoid confrontation with Russian warplanes in Syrian airspace.
Stoltenberg told reporters that Turkey had not made any requests for additional troops or weapons from NATO, though he said the alliance was “in constant dialogue” with Ankara over the Russian military presence near its borders.
“You have to remember that Turkey is a strong ally,” he said, noting that Turkey has the second-largest army. “The important thing for Turkey is that they know they are a part of NATO, that the security guarantees are 100 percent rock-solid.”
Meanwhile, NATO is reconsidering its plans to withdraw Patriot missile batteries deployed to Turkey.
The alliance had stationed three batteries in Turkey in 2013 to deter cross-border rocket and missile attacks from the Syrian government. Two of batteries — manned by Germany and the United States — are scheduled to be removed this fall, leaving a single unit operated by the Spanish military.