NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed Thursday that the military alliance would establish a space center at the Allied Air Command base in Ramstein, Germany.
Speaking in Brussels after a virtual conference of NATO foreign ministers, Stoltenberg confirmed reports regarding the space center made earlier this week by European news agencies.
"NATO is determined to keep our cutting edge in all domains," he said, including “land, sea, air, cyber and space."
During a meeting last December, Stoltenberg declared "space as an operational domain for NATO. And today we took another important step.”
In his comments, the NATO chief said the Allied Air Command space center would help to coordinate allied space activities and provide support for NATO missions and operations from space using satellite communications and imagery. Stoltenberg said the center also would help protect NATO-allied space systems by sharing information about potential threats.
Stoltenberg has said repeatedly that NATO has no interest in the "militarization” of space. But Thursday, he said threats against NATO allied satellites and space systems were real.
“For instance," he said, "Russia and China are now developing capabilities that can blind, destroy, for instance, satellites, which will have a severe impact on both military and civilian activities on the ground.”
Stoltenberg also said NATO foreign ministers expressed concern about Russia's growing arsenal of nuclear-capable missiles and the importance of Russia and the U.S. extending the new START missile treaty.
The secretary-general also called for an immediate cease-fire and cessation of all hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The region lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994.
The current fighting that started there marks the biggest escalation in the conflict since the war's end. Stoltenberg called on Turkey to “use its considerable influence in the region to calm tensions."