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NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic had not diminished the alliance's ability to carry out its missions and keep allies secure.
At a news briefing carried via video-conference from Brussels, Stoltenberg said NATO was doing its part to airlift necessary emergency medical equipment, and he noted that a military cargo aircraft left Turkey earlier Wednesday with protective gear and other medical equipment for Spain and Italy.
Stoltenberg also said NATO's "core task" is to provide security for nearly 1 billion people, so the immediate primary objective is to "make sure a health crisis does not become a security crisis."
Stoltenberg said recent Russian war games in western Russia near NATO ally borders were a stark reminder that the alliance cannot lose its focus on defending Europe.
NATO foreign ministers are scheduled to meet Thursday, also via video-conference.