Kyiv Security Forum panel discussion
with the participation of NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller
DAVID EADES [Moderator]: We've heard a lot of supportive commentary here. I think we've also heard a considerable degree of frustration in certain quarters. As I said at the start, I'm going to indulge our panel for five or ten minutes, because I do want to give you an opportunity for one or two questions, if you would like to take that opportunity. So, we've got a few hands coming up here. First, the gentleman at the back there, and then to the gentleman here. If you can tell us who you are, where you're from, give us your question and who you want to address it to. Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you, David. My name is [Valeri Krasnik]. I am from National Institute for Strategic Studies of Ukraine and my question will go to Miss Rose Gottemoeller. It will be linked with the security vacuum we have in Europe, in Eastern Europe, but… Russia, but not only, and with the lack of strategic decisions, and even tactical decisions, how to react on such security vacuum. Actually we believe in our membership, in membership of Ukraine in NATO, but we still understand that it's idealistic perception, because realistically we don’t have a consensus in NATO to this situation and at least we're having the hot unproclaimed war with the Russian Federation in the east of Ukraine and a very bad strategic situation, as Mr Turchynov said. And after the World War One, in one war…
DAVID EADES [Moderator]: If you can get to the question, if you can, please.
QUESTION: Yep. Yep. In… after World War One, it was in one war with entente cordiale, with NATO all the time, it was found in 1920, this small entente with Yugoslavia, with Romania and Czechoslovakia. What do we think about the perspective of small NATO with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova? Is it a real plan and a good plan, how to stop this security vacuum in Eastern Europe?
DAVID EADES [Moderator]: OK, thank you very much. Rose.
ROSE GOTTEMOELLER [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Thank you. Is it OK? All right, thank you. Thank you for that very interesting angle of history too, which I recollect, but hadn’t thought about for a while. But, let me… I want to quickly answer your question, but basically by taking… making a difference with two things you said. First thing, I don’t think that there is a security vacuum in Eastern Europe and I'm sitting next to the Minister of Defence of Lithuania. NATO has put in place four battlegroups in the year, since the Warsaw Summit in July of 2016. It was fantastic to watch because I only arrived at NATO in October of 2016, but fantastic to watch how the entire NATO Alliance came together to form these four battlegroups. They are for deterrence and defence. They sometimes get criticised because they are for deterrence and defence, they are a tripwire. But I want you to know that in the run-up to our next Summit, what we are focusing on is the follow-on forces. What do we need to do, to be able to reinforce, if we need to? What are all the decisions NATO needs to make about the command structure? What are the decisions we need to make about enablement in order to have air and sea, as well as ground forces available? What are the decisions we need to have and the action we need to take with regard to military mobility? So, I see nothing like a vacuum in the security of Eastern Europe. There is a lot of work going on to ensure that the security of eastern and central Europe, including of Ukraine, remains front and centre.
The other thing I want to say is… and it's the answer to your question, is it's not so idealistic for Ukraine to have Euro-Atlantic aspirations and to wish to join both NATO and the European Union. I think those are very important and realistic goals. But I'm not going to hide from you that you have a lot of heavy lifting to do before you are ready for NATO membership. Important reforms have to be carried out. They are the reforms of defence institutions, the security institutions, including the ministry… ministries represented here. And I think, you know, if I had one piece of advice for Ukraine, it is to keep the focus on reforms now, front and centre. But your Euro-Atlantic aspirations are not idealistic, they are not by a long shot. They are realistic.
DAVID EADES [Moderator]: Thank you very much. A very clear response there. Gentleman in the middle, please? Thank you. And then… No, at the back there. Further back. Yeah.
QUESTION: [Interpreted]: Good morning, dear Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for this wonderful and most interesting discussion. If I could make a very brief remark and then a question. When Mr Turchynov was speaking, he raised this issue to a certain extent; Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO, in his recent annual report, wrote on Page 69 that Ukraine will get support. My question is to Ms Gottemoeller, suppose a negative scenario unleashes and Russian troops cross the border. What kind of support will Ukraine receive from the NATO countries? I think that it's not only me, the representative of expert community, who asks this question, but the Ukrainian people would also like to know that.
DAVID EADES [Moderator]: Rose, it is aimed at you again. It's a hypothetical, I suspect you're going to say first of all, but as far as you can to address directly that point.
ROSE GOTTEMOELLER [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Yes, it is a hypothetical and I'm not going to pass a hypothetical or analyse it. But I will say think about it, think about the support that NATO already gives to Ukraine. I talked for a moment ago about our support to defence institution building, but in addition to which there are some very practical ways that NATO has been supporting Ukraine in terms of training. A thousand experts have been trained. These are trainers who then provide additional training to your troops, to your military. Sir Malcolm Rifkind spoke a moment ago about how many changes have come about throughout the government of Ukraine, but the changes we have seen in the armed forces of Ukraine, in order that you are able to be more efficient and effective in this hot conflict you have in the Donbass, that comes about not only because of NATO cooperation, but from support you get bilaterally, from my own country, from the United States, from the UK, Lithuania, others very involved. And so we are already supporting Ukraine. As to what would happen in some future hypothetical scenario, I'm not going to go there.