Joint press point

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko

  • 13 Dec. 2018 -
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  • Last updated: 13 Dec. 2018 16:13

(As delivered)

President Poroshenko, dear Petro,

Welcome back to NATO Headquarters.  It’s always great to meet you and always a great honour and pleasure to welcome you to NATO.  Ukraine is really a highly valued partner of NATO.  And I very much appreciate our close cooperation and our friendship.

We just had a substantial discussion about NATO’s strong support to Ukraine and Russia’s aggressive actions in the Black Sea.

We remain concerned by the heightened tensions in and around the Sea of Azov. There can be no justification for Russia's use of military force against Ukrainian ships and sailors.

Russia must immediately release the sailors and ships they seized and allow freedom of navigation including free access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov.

We strongly condemn Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, which we do not and will not recognise.  The building of the Kerch Strait bridge is another violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

This is part of Russia’s pattern of destabilising behaviour.  We see that in eastern Ukraine where ceasefire violations are reported daily.  Including with weapons banned under the Minsk Agreements.

The OSCE monitoring mission still faces restrictions to doing their job. They are regularly prevented from moving freely.  And their observation drones are jammed and shot down.

The so-called “elections” in the Donbas last month ran contrary to the letter and spirit of the Minsk Agreements and undermine efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict.  

NATO provides Ukraine with strong political and practical support.  This includes around 40 million euros pledged by Allies for NATO-Ukraine Trust Funds.

One such Trust Fund is helping Ukraine improve command and control, and communications.  And today I told President Poroshenko that we will deliver secure communications equipment for the Ukrainian Armed Forces by the end of this year.  We are also supporting Ukraine to improve its naval capabilities, logistics and cyber defence.

In response to Russia’s aggressive actions, NATO has stepped up its presence in the Black Sea region over the past few years.  And we will continue to assess our posture there.

President Poroshenko, I appreciate the calm and restraint Ukraine has demonstrated during the developments near the Sea of Azov.  Escalation would be in no-one’s interest now.  I also commend you for your commitment to the democratic process in view of next year’s elections in Ukraine.  Good governance and reform will bring Ukraine closer to the Euro-Atlantic family.

Important progress has already been made and we encourage Ukraine to continue on the path of reform. Including toward greater civilian control over the security and intelligence services, anti-corruption and minority rights.

Allies recognise Ukraine’s aspirations to join the Alliance.  We want to see your country succeed.  And we are committed to helping you do so.

So once again President Poroshenko, dear Petro, welcome to NATO, it’s always great to have you here.

Petro Poroshenko [President of Ukraine]: Thank you very much indeed, Jens, dear Secretary General.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to thank Secretary General Stoltenberg for the very welcome of me as a President of Ukraine, my Delegation, and today timely meeting and very constructive dialogue.  We discuss lots of point, agenda of our cooperation is very wide and we have a very positive decision.  Definitely, the deteriorating security situation in the Black Sea was in the centre of our discussion today and we have absolutely clear common vision what happening; Russia openly committed blatant act of aggression against Ukraine in the international water of the Black Sea.  Full stop.  And I am very appreciate for NATO stands with Ukraine and I want to inform that, after a few hours, I call to the Secretary General and it was immediate and urgent dialogue and programme for cooperation, including the NATO-Ukraine Commission at Ambassador level, for the coordination of our action in the situation when Russia attack Ukrainian armed forces.  And I am very much appreciate that Allied solidarity which was demonstrated and it is extremely important for us.  I welcome that Allies call on Russia to release unconditionally Ukrainian sailors and ships, without delay, to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, and definitely restore the freedom of navigation.  This is extremely important for us and I want to repeat once again, that should do immediately and unconditionally.  By using the open fire against Ukrainian vessel, Russia crossed the red line and we cannot and shall not let it go without clear and strong response.  Today, our absolute priority to get our servicemen back, and Ukraine and Allies share the same assessment of Russian aggressive action.  We witness the growing threat of Russia, unfortunately, and this is not only in the Black Sea, Azov Sea region, and international water of the Strait of Kerch.  Russia not just attacked Ukraine; it's deliberate military assault tested resolve of the whole Euro-Atlantic community.  Russia lost all credibility and confidence as a … [inaudible] and our action in response to Russian aggression in the Black Sea must be robust enough.  Ukraine invited Allies to come up with a comprehensive hard measures to response on Russia's action.  NATO enhance, as we agreed, permanent presence in the Black Sea, and it is needed to prevent escalation, tension further, and to ensure the security in the region.  Definitely this is the things which we definitely need now.  And we would welcome the launch in NATO air and sea monitoring mission.  We would appreciate establishing regular information exchange with NATO, to ensure better joint situational awareness in the Black Sea and in the whole region.  It is important that Ukraine is going to participate in the Regional Airspace Security Programme; RASP.  And we would also appreciate Allied assistance in strengthening Ukraine naval capability, as the Secretary General said, and to assistance in the capability of our infrastructure.  And I am glad that we have a considerable progress in our practical cooperation with NATO, in deepening this cooperation in many different spheres.  We highly value Allied commitments to enhance cooperation with Ukraine and we welcome more active engagement with NATO, in a framework of joint military exercise, training programme which we confirm, which is extremely efficient both for Ukraine and for NATO member states.  We expect enhanced further cooperation with NATO, within the project of the NATO Trust Fund in Ukraine, and this is extremely important in increasing our naval capability, which we agreed with the member states and with NATO itself, and this is definitely wok for improving the security in the Black Sea and Azov Sea.  We are grateful for NATO assistance in developing secure satellite communication capability and the first stage of this cooperation has already happened now, during my visit of … General Secretary, I want to thank you for your efficient reaction on the Ukrainian request.  Also, NATO support we achieved important progress in development Ukraine's cybersecurity capability, which is also the priority of our cooperation now and I am look forward to launching new project in strengthening the cyber protection of Ukraine election infrastructure.  I mean the information system, and I am really very much appreciative by the very high level of understanding and cooperation.  We are grateful to Allies for support implementation of our reform agenda, which help us to strengthen our own defence capability, including the National Security Law, civilian control of our armed forces, which we done in effective coordination and cooperation with our NATO partners.  We also very much appreciate achieving NATO standard and full interoperability with Alliance, our main objective Ukraine security and defence sector of the reform.  And we going to fix the constitution Ukraine strategic course to a full fledge membership of NATO and full fledge membership of European Union.  And we very much appreciate our partners in NATO for the very strong signal the door of NATO is open for Ukraine.  I should guarantee the irreversibility of the Euro-Atlantic course and give Allies definitely more confidence in Ukraine.  Ukraine is one of the Alliance’s closest operational partners and, regardless ongoing Russian aggression, this year Ukraine managed to increase its participation in the Resolute Support Mission.  This is what we agreed and this is what extremely important for Ukraine, as a partner of NATO.  Ukraine's participation in NATO-led missions and operations demonstrate our resolve and capability to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security.  And please, be sure that Ukraine is NATO's most dedicated ally on the eastern flank of NATO.  And in future, definitely we would be responsible for the eastern flank of NATO as a member state.  Today, it is Ukraine where the future transatlantic security and stability are being decided.  Supporting Ukraine, including countering of the ongoing Russian aggression, is definitely the best investment in the security of the free world.  And once again, I want to thank Secretary General for the very efficient negotiation, for the permanent and constant support, and effective cooperation.  Thank you, Jens.  Thank you, Secretary General.

Oana Lungescu [NATO Spokesperson]: Okay, we'll take a question from Ukrainian TV and I'm afraid that’s the only question we'll have time for.

Question [Ukrainian TV] [Interpreted]: I've got a question for President Poroshenko.  You have conducted a number of meetings, what are the future steps of the partners of Ukraine to stop the fully fledged Russian aggression?  And also, what would be the Azov package about?

Petro Poroshenko [President of Ukraine] [Interpreted]: First of all, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Congress of the United States has passed a resolution where there is a demand and requirement to assist Ukraine, because of the Russian aggression in the Black Sea and in the Azov Sea.  Yesterday, Ukrainian team and the European Parliament, I want to thank everybody. I want to thank all the European Parliament - everybody voted the resolution of the European Parliament with very clear demand about the discussion of the sanctions against Russian Federation for the open act of aggression in the Black Sea.  Besides, there was a number of other decisions there.  We talked about the Northern Flow 2, which of course is a very political project, which in fact will reduce the … [inaudible] of security of the European Union and will be… indeed the project which will put pressure on Ukraine and neighbouring countries.  When we talk about the sanctions, yesterday we presented President Tusk with the data, with the projects, and today I have presented those documents to the Secretary General of NATO.  I have given the list of people; the members of the Federal Security Service of Russia, FSB, who were involved in the action and acts against the Ukrainian naval officers.  Here, we are talking about not just the FSB service, we are talking about the judges, we are talking about the prosecutors who tried to jail Ukrainian sailors.  Can I stress again that we are talking the prisoners of war, and of course Russia has no jurisdiction over the Ukrainian sailors and Russia perhaps does not notice the Geneva Convention here. Russia doesn’t notice that it acts as an aggressor towards Ukraine when we talk about Crimea, when we talk about the east of Ukraine, and indeed, the act of aggression in international waters.  We are conducting very concrete discussions and we hope that we will create a new package of sanctions, similar to the package of sanctions which was created when the bridge over Kerch Strait has been built.  Yesterday, we had very successful talks with Donald Tusk, with the European Council, and we do hope that the sanctions will continue.  And, as Secretary General said, that indeed Russia does not implement the Minsk Agreement, that the elections are illegal and they totally ignore the international laws and of course I'm absolutely sure that today's talks in Brussels, both with the European Council, with the Commission, and also with NATO are extremely successful.  Thank you.

Oana Lungescu [NATO Spokesperson]: Thank you very much, this concludes this press point.