Press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission

  • 13 May. 2015
  • |
  • Last updated: 13 May. 2015 21:09

Good evening.

We have just finished a successful meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

NATO stands firm in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

And for Ukraine’s right to decide its own future. 

Free from outside interference.

We strongly condemn Russia’s aggressive actions.

We call on Russia to fully abide by international law.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea is illegal and illegitimate.

We do not and we will not recognize it.  

We condemn Russia’s ongoing and wide-ranging military build-up in Crimea. 

And we are deeply concerned by statements about possible future stationing of nuclear weapons and delivery systems in Crimea.  

And we are concerned by Russia’s efforts to further build up its military presence in the Black Sea region.

This could have further implications on regional stability.

The Minsk agreements offers the best chances to settle the conflict in eastern Ukraine by diplomatic means and dialogue.

But what we see is an increase in ceasefire violations, primarily by the separatists, continued Russian support for them, and the continued obstruction of the work of the  OSCE monitors.

This is in contradiction to the Minsk agreements.

All parties bear responsibility to ensure full implementation.

Russia has a significant responsibility in this regard.

We call on Russia to: 

Stop its deliberate destabilization of eastern Ukraine. End its support for the separatists. Withdraw its forces and military equipment from Ukraine and along its borders. And fully support a political solution. 

At the same time, we welcome Ukraine’s efforts to promote reform and reconciliation.

Because reforms are key for a prosperous and democratic future.

So we strongly encourage the government of Ukraine to continue its efforts, at full speed.

Our close cooperation will strengthen Ukraine’s ability to defend itself. 

We have stepped up our support to Ukraine on command and control, logistics, cyber defence and rehabilitation of wounded soldiers.

We have strengthened our office in Kyiv.

Provided advisors to the Government of Ukraine, including the Ministry of Defense .

And Ukraine will host a NATO-led exercise on disaster response this autumn.

So our partnership is strong. And it is getting even stronger. 

With that, I’m ready to take your questions.


OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson):  We'll start over there. 

Q:  Channel 5, Ukraine, Could you please about the results of this meeting.  I mean some practical support from NATO.  And could you please tell about...  There was a rumour about new trust funds after such commission today.  Is there any news about...?  Is there any agreements about new trust funds?  And maybe you can tell us about total sum ... budget or financial support to Ukraine.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  So we have set up the trust funds. And what we are doing now is that we are financing different programmes by resources from the trust funds. And these are different kinds of programmes. But they are related to, of course, the different trust funds. So they are related to command and control. 

We help the Ukrainians developing their command and control systems.  It's related to logistics. And it's also related to cyber-defence which is something we think is key; and also related to the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers. 

In addition, we are also...  we have also increased the number of NATO personnel in Kiev.  And they are providing advice to the government of Ukraine, in particular to the Ministry of Defence. 

And as I stated, we will also have a NATO-led exercise: disaster management exercise later this year.  So we are stepping up our practical support for Ukraine.  And what NATO does is that we provide strong political support for Ukraine.  And I think that's also expressed by the high number of high level visits from different NATO capitals to Ukraine and Kiev.  And we are stepping up the practical support. 

In addition to this, there are several nations who are now providing more help on the bilateral level. Several NATO Allies are stepping up their bilateral support for Ukraine. And this is partly training, military training provided by the United States, UK and Canada.  And I know that Ukraine is welcoming this bilateral support, the training; but also non-lethal support from a large number of NATO Allies.  So in total this is a big package of practical, political and also bilateral support from NATO and NATO Allies.

OANA LUNGESCU:  Over there, lady over there...  Please put up your hand if you have questions, thank you.

Q:  Thank you, Sanwa Amin(?), Compact Magazine, Berlin.  You mentioned that a ceasefire has been mainly violated from the Russian side.  But that implies that also the Kiev side has maybe violated the ceasefire.  What were you discussing about this issue?  And my... the second part of the question is: "What if Kiev does not have the law of autonomy?"  Would that also influence the implementation of the Minsk Agreement?  Thank you very much.

JENS STOLTENBERG: So for us, it is important that the Minsk Agreements are implemented in full.  That means full respect for a ceasefire by all parties.  It means the withdrawal of heavy weapons.  And it means of course that the monitors... the OSCE monitors shall have full access and the security guarantees they need to do the proper monitoring of the implementation of the ceasefire.  But it also implies that the political parts of the Minsk Agreements are fully implemented, which of course includes that the Donbas region shall have a special status. And that there are elections which have to take place. 

So we support the full implementation of all the elements of the Minsk Agreements. And we do so because for us it's obvious that the Minsk Agreements is really the only viable way towards a peaceful negotiated solution to the crisis in Eastern Ukraine.  So we will continue to provide strong support for the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

OANA LUNGESCU:  Lady over there.

Q:  Ukraine...

OANA LUNGESCU:  The lady over there....

Q:  Good evening,  Liztya Nakostata(?), Lithuania's Morning and Lithuanian National Radio.  My question maybe will be different from others.  But I'm just interested in your answer.  I already asked the same question for Heinrich Brauss, Assistant Secretary General of Defence Policy and Planning.  Would you consider the current situation between NATO and Russia similar to that of Cold War between USA and Russia, considering there's troops deployed across the borders, the Readiness Action Plan with its emphasis on the intelligence.  I mean both sides are showing off their military power.  What is your answer? And your comment on this?  Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  I think it's not a right thing to characterize the present situation as Cold War.  We are not in the same situation as we were during the Cold War period after the Second World War until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  Because during the Cold War we had two military blocs: NATO and the Warsaw Pact standing against each other.  And we also had... And there was ideological fight against two blocs.  And it involved actually the whole world.

So I think there are clear differences between now and the Cold War. But we are neither in the strategic partnership that we have tried to develop between NATO and Russia for many years after the end of the Cold War. So we are neither in the strategic partnership we have tried to develop or in a Cold War situation.  

We are in something which is different. And therefore we had to adapt our Alliance to a new security environment. And that's exactly what we are doing, partly by increasing the readiness and the preparedness of our forces; and partly by working with the partners in our neighborhood, both in the East (Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine) but also in the South.  So we are responding in a firm way. But everything we do is proportionate and defensive and fully in line with our international obligations. 

OANA LUNGESCU:  ... One last question, the lady over there, second row please.

Q:  Secretary General, Olga Kuzesnova(?) from Russia Now and national Kommersant, I would like to ask you what is NATO's position on the idea of the deployment of peacekeeping contingents in Ukraine; that earlier was put forward by the Ukrainian government.  Thank you.

JENS STOLTENBERG:  Our focus now is the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements.  And I think that is now the main purpose, it's to make sure that the ceasefire is respected and that we have full withdrawal of the heavy weapons and that the monitors are allowed to have full access. And that the political elements also are implemented by providing special status the Donetsk and Lugansk and also having elections. 

Then I think that this up to actually the parties who are negotiating and responsible for the implementation. They have to decide what will be the next steps. So I won't give any advice.  I will only fully support the full implementation of the Minsk Agreement.  And our main focus is on that now. 

OANA LUNGESCU:  One last question. Second row over here please.

Q:  Radio Free Europe.  Radio Liberty Georgia, (Inaudible).  Secretary General, Georgia was not agent on these ministerials.  But you met with Minister (Inaudible). What message was sent to Georgia by you today... today's meeting?

JENS STOLTENBERG: The message we have sent many times is that we will continue to work very closely with Georgia. And that we are going to implement the substantial package we agreed.  And this is about training. This is about establishing a training centre in Georgia. And it is about also supporting the sovereignty and the integrity of Georgia which I think is very important; because we do not in any way recognize the so-called treaties between Russia and Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  These regions are part of Georgia... the internationally recognized borders of Georgia.  So we regard Georgia as a staunch and important partner.  And we continue our close cooperation with Georgia.

OANA LUNGESCU:  Thank you very much indeed.

Q:  Thank you.