with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Latvia, Egils Levits
Thank you so much for this warm welcome.
It is always a pleasure to be in Latvia and to meet with you again.
We just had an important discussion about Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
And the implications for our security.
The Ukrainian people and armed forces have inspired the world with their courage.
But President Putin’s assault continues.
And the humanitarian impact is devastating.
Many civilians have been killed or wounded.
And 2 million people have fled Ukraine.
This is Europe's fastest-growing refugee crisis since the Second World War.
There are very credible reports of civilians coming under fire as they try to evacuate.
Targeting civilians is a war crime.
And it is totally unacceptable.
We need real humanitarian corridors that are fully respected.
We made clear for months that President Putin would pay a high price for renewed aggression against Ukraine.
And this price is exactly what he is paying now.
Russia has been hit with severe and unprecedented sanctions.
And near-total isolation on the world stage.
Allies are helping Ukraine to uphold its fundamental right to self-defence.
Stepping up with billions of euros worth of support.
And opening their borders and providing aid for refugees.
The suffering we now see in Ukraine is horrific.
It affects us all.
And we have a responsibility to ensure the conflict does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine.
That would be even more dangerous, destructive, and even more deadly.
And the situation could spiral out of control.
To make sure there is no room for miscalculation in Moscow, NATO has significantly strengthened our presence in the eastern part of our Alliance.
We have 130 jets at high alert.
Over 200 ships from the High North to the Mediterranean.
And thousands of additional troops in the region.
Including at NATO’s multinational battlegroup in Adazi,
Which I will visit later this afternoon.
Allies including Canada, the United States, and Spain are deploying hundreds of additional troops here.
We will protect and defend every inch of Latvia.
And we will protect and defend every inch of all Allied territory.
North America and Europe together, standing strong in NATO – the strongest alliance in history.
NATO stands united at this critical moment for our shared security.
Thank you again for hosting me here today.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: The last part was… I didn’t hear the last…?
Question: Do you have a plan? How NATO can help Kyiv?
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: NATO Allies provide support to Ukraine in many different ways. Allies provide military support to help Ukraine to uphold the right for self defence. Allies have done so for many years.
Canada, who's present also here in Latvia with the leadership of the battlegroup, has actually helped to train tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers over the last years.
And many other Allies have provided equipment and support and they have stepped up over the last days and weeks with more support to Ukraine to help them in their courageous fight against the invading Russian forces. Allies also provide fiscal, financial support to Ukraine and humanitarian aid.
Then, NATO Allies together with partners and the European Union have imposed unprecedented economic sanctions, which we now see are having an effect. The ruble is at historical low levels, the stock market has been closed. And we see that many companies are also leaving Russia and so the economic sanctions are unprecedented in their effect and the constraints imposing significant costs on Russia for their brutal invasion of Ukraine.
And then of course, Allies are also making sure that we protect all Allies. We need to end this conflict, not expand it. And therefore, we are increasing our presence also in Latvia and the other eastern parts of our Alliance to make sure that Russia understands that we are here to protect and defend all Allies, every inch of Allied territory.
Question: And I have a question to Mr Levits. Do you think that we here in the Baltics can feel completely safe given the support and the protection of our Allies or do we face any immediate threats from Russia here?
President of Latvia Egils Levits: Well, the answer is very clear. We are safe. We are protected. We are a NATO member state and other Allies will stand by us and will protect us. NATO protects each of its member states, every inch of its member state territory, including Latvia of course. And the measures that we've today discussed with the Secretary General include various practical measures to show Moscow, show [the] Kremlin that NATO is read, NATO is prepared to protect its territory, all of its territories of its member states, including of course Latvia. And that way we will deter Moscow from further aggression because Moscow only understands brute force and NATO is the most powerful defensive organisation in the world.
Moderator: Thank you. This concludes our press conference. Thank you all, and thank you Secretary General.