Press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meetings of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs on 6 and 7 April 2022

  • 05 Apr. 2022 -
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  • Last updated: 05 Apr. 2022 18:19

(As delivered)

Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meetings of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs on 6 and 7 April 2022

Good afternoon.

NATO Foreign Ministers will meet tomorrow and Thursday to address President Putin’s war against Ukraine.

We have all seen the horrific images of murdered civilians in Bucha and other places,
controlled by the Russian military until a few days ago.
This is unbearable brutality that Europe has not witnessed in many decades.  
Targeting and murdering civilians is a war crime.
All the facts must be established.
And all those responsible for these atrocities must be brought to justice. 

NATO Allies are supporting investigations.
Including through the United Nations, and the International Criminal Court.  

The Ukrainian armed forces are putting up fierce resistance.
Retaking territory from the Russian invaders.
And forcing Russia to change its war plans.

But Moscow is not giving up its ambitions in Ukraine.
We now see a significant movement of troops away from Kyiv.
To regroup, rearm and resupply.  
And they shift their focus to the east.

In the coming weeks, we expect a further Russian push in eastern and southern Ukraine.
To try to take the entire Donbas and to create a land-bridge to occupied Crimea.

So this is a crucial phase of the war.

And as Ukraine faces this new offensive, NATO Foreign Ministers will discuss what more we will do.

Allies are determined to provide further support to Ukraine.
Including anti-tank weapons, air-defence systems and other equipment.
Allies have also increased humanitarian assistance and financial aid.

NATO will also look to provide cybersecurity assistance.
And equipment to help Ukraine protect against chemical and biological threats.

I expect we will also decide to do more for NATO’s other partners, which are vulnerable to Russian threats and interference.
Including Georgia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
By stepping up our political and practical support, we can help our partners strengthen their resilience.
And prevent any future aggression.

On Thursday, we will be joined by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
He will update us on the latest developments, including Kyiv’s negotiations with Moscow.

Finland, Sweden, Georgia, and the European Union will be at the table.
And we will be joined by NATO’s Asia-Pacific partners.
Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.
Because this crisis has global implications, which concerns us all.

We see that China has been unwilling to condemn Russia’s aggression.
And has joined Moscow in questioning the right of nations to choose their own path.

At a time when authoritarian powers are pushing back on the rules-based international order, it is even more important for democracies to stand together, and protect our values.
So I expect we will agree to deepen NATO’s cooperation with our Asia-Pacific partners.
Including in areas such as arms control, cyber, hybrid, and technology.
Working more closely together will make us all safer and more secure.

Allies will also discuss our work to develop NATO’s next Strategic Concept in time for the Madrid Summit in June.
It will guide the Alliance as we adapt to a new security reality.
It will address the implications of Russia’s aggressive actions, and our future relationship with Moscow.

For the first time, it will also need to take account of China’s growing influence and coercive policies on the global stage.
Which pose a systemic challenge to our security, and to our democracies.

Our next Strategic Concept must also consider climate change, terrorism, and emerging and disruptive technologies.

At our Summit last year, we agreed to establish a billion euro NATO Innovation Fund.
And a Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic – DIANA.

This week, ministers will endorse the Charter of DIANA, setting out how it will work.

It will include a network of nearly 60 innovation sites in Europe and North America.
Enabling NATO to develop and test new capabilities for our defence.

Altogether, the initial footprint will cover 20 NATO nations.
Representing a true transatlantic endeavour.
And we expect it will continue to expand in the future.

DIANA will work with academia and the private sector, including start-ups and entrepreneurs.
So that Allies, regardless of their size or their location, can harness the best of new technology and keep our people safe. 

Our meeting this week is an important milestone as we continue to adapt our Alliance for the future.

And with that, I am ready to take your questions.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: Okay, we’ll start with the National News Agency of Ukraine, gentleman in the second row.

Dmytro Shkurko (National News Agency of Ukraine): Dmytro Shkurko, National News Agency of Ukraine. Secretary General by the mass killings and atrocities in the Ukrainian cities, Russian troops absolutely clearly demonstrated what does it mean, Russian policy of denazification, so called. But my question is not about the NATO stance about that. Is there any hope that NATO allies will at least understand that we're some kind of real Nazi regime arising in Russia? And the second part of the question is what NATO really can do to prevent the tragedy of the scale, as we seen during the Second World War. Thanks.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: What we now see with this brutality, is the scale and the scope of war that we haven't seen in Europe since the Second World War. This is extremely serious. It's horrific. And of course it causes suffering for the Ukrainian people. But it's also dangerous for all of us. And we see the nature of President Putin's war, his lack of respect for the rule of law for international rules, and also his lack of respect for basic human rights, including the right to life, for all those who are killed in this conflict. And this is the most serious security challenge we have faced since the Second World War. And it has triggered very comprehensive and strong response from the whole NATO Alliance.

We NATO Allies provide support to Ukraine, and we have provided support Ukraine for many years. NATO allies have trained 10s of 1000s of Ukrainian troops many of whom are now on the front line fighting against the Russian invaders. NATO allies have equipped Ukrainian military for many years and after the invasion allies stepped up and provided even more support. We see the effect of this support every day on the battlefield, because it is first and foremost the bravery, the courage, of Ukrainian soldiers, but of course the help and the equipment they have received from NATO allies have enabled them to put up much more resistance to fight back in a much more effective way than the Russians expected, they totally underestimated the strength of Ukrainian armed forces, and NATO Allies have declared their further support for Ukraine.

Not least in light of the atrocities we have seen in Bucha and other places in Ukraine. So Allies are providing support and as we continue to provide support, because it is absolutely unacceptable what we see President Putin is doing against a sovereign, independent, democratic nation in Europe.

NATO Spokesperson: We’ll go with CNN, first row.

Nic Robertson (CNN): Thank you very much, Nick Robertson, from CNN. President Zelenskyy has said that he will not accept a peace unless all Russian troops leave Ukraine pre-February 23rd lines, can NATO accept a peace that leaves Russian troops in Ukraine beyond their February 23rd possessions?

NATO Secretary General: NATO's Task is to provide support to Ukraine, and we do so with modern military equipment, financial military support, and also humanitarian support. Then it is for the Ukrainian government and for President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine to decide what kind of peace arrangements they can accept. We know that there is a very close link between what they can achieve at the negotiating table and their strength on the battlefield. So the stronger we are able to make them on the battlefield, the more support to the more strength we can provide to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the better results they can achieve at the negotiating table.

So it's not for me to give advice, but it's for me and NATO allies to provide them support. And then at the end of the day for the Ukrainian authorities, for the Ukrainian president, and for the Ukrainian people to decide what kind of agreements they can accept. We will never recognise illegally occupied territories. So NATO allies have not recognised illegally annexed Crimea and we will never recognise the illegally occupied territories.

NATO Spokesperson: Al Jazeera.

Step Vaessen (Al Jazeera): Step Vaessen from Al Jazeera English. What we've seen in Bucha is basically we can't conclude anything else than that, despite the fact that NATO has been supporting Ukraine, Ukraine has insisted from the beginning it wasn't enough. We can only conclude that the world and NATO has been watching while these atrocities have been happening in Bucha. Can we now conclude that NATO is ending up at the wrong side of history? That's my first question. And the second one is you say we are increasing our efforts in Ukraine. How are we going to how are you going to prevent that another Bucha will happen in the future, in the next coming weeks when the offences is going to increase? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: This is President Putin's war, he is responsible. He has made this war by his own choice, and he is responsible for the atrocities, for the casualties, for the whole effects of the war, which are seen everyday taking place on the ground in Ukraine. Then our responsibility is to support the Ukrainians. And we have done that for many years. And the training and equipment NATO allies have provided since 2014, has helped them so they are in a totally different position now than Ukraine was back in 2014 when Russia invaded for the first time.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces are bigger, better equipped, better trained, better led today than in 2014. Not least because of support that our NATO allies have provided for more than eight years. We need to continue to put unprecedented pressure on President Putin and that's the reason why we are on the right side of history because we are standing up for our values. We are imposing unprecedented economic costs on Russia. And we have stepped up and have made it clear and expect our allies when they meet here tomorrow and the day after tomorrow to make clear that they will continue to further support Ukraine with more advanced equipment and military support.

But NATO has also another responsibility, and that is to prevent this conflict from escalating beyond Ukraine, because the suffering we see in Ukraine is horrific. But if this turns in to be a full-fledge war, between a nuclear power, Russia, and NATO, then we will see even more suffering even more death, even more destruction. And that's reason why NATO has to make some hard and difficult decisions to provide support. But to do that in a way that doesn't escalate this conflict into a war that will really be a full-fledged war between NATO and Russia, a nuclear power. And that's a reality we will have to face.

NATO Spokesperson: NPR, Deutsche Welle.

Teri Schultz (NPR/Deutsche Welle): Could you tell me what NATO's assessment is realistically of Russia's capacity to actually launch a chemical or biological or radiological attack? Because you keep warning them against it, and I understand some of this is classified, but there are also experts who say that Russia doesn't have this capacity, and that it's fear mongering to keep talking about the fact that they may launch an attack. So, does the Alliance believe that Russia really could do this in a way that would affect NATO countries?

NATO Secretary General: I'll be careful speculating, but what I would like to say is that it was actually Russia that has started to speak about these types of weapons, because they have accused us, Ukraine, United States, NATO Allies, for preparing the use of biological and chemical weapons. And this is absolutely false. It's has nothing to do with truth whatsoever. And then it has been necessary for us to push back and say that no, NATO and NATO Allies are in no way supporting Ukraine in any way through any use of chemical weapons.

That has been our message, then we have added two more points. And that is that we know that Russia has used chemical agents before, they have used it against their own opposition. They used it in Salisbury, and we have seen that Russia has used chemical weapons and agents before. We also seen that they have supported the Assad regime in Syria, where chemical weapons have been used. But this is first and foremost something that has been brought into the discussion by Russia accusing us for preparing use of chemical weapons which is absolutely wrong, us and Ukraine.

And second, the same thing goes for nuclear weapons, where we have seen the very dangerous nuclear rhetoric from Russia, threatening the use of nuclear weapons as part of the build-up we have seen in and around Ukraine, even before the invasion, but also after.

NATO Spokesperson: Okay, we’ll go to Rustavi.

Tamara Nutsubidze (Rustavi):
Rustavi, Tamara Nutsubidze. In joint statement from the last summit, NATO mentioned we're providing [inaudible] support to partners affected by Russia’s threats and interference and we'll step up our assistance to help them etc. In April, foreign ministers will consider concrete proposals for enhance our support to these partners. So what Georgia could expect from this important meeting tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and also, Georgia will present also new Minister of Foreign Affairs and will represent Georgia in this meeting.

NATO Secretary General: I look forward to meet the new Georgian foreign minister and we always look forward to meet with our highly valued partner Georgia in different NATO meetings tomorrow and in the foreign ministerial meeting, actually the day after on Thursday, and Georgia is a partner which is important for NATO and I expect that the foreign ministers they will look into how we can further step up our support to Georgia and for Georgia This could include increased in our support to the substantial NATO - Georgia package, including the areas of situational awareness, secure communications, resilience, and cyber. We can also support Georgia in developing its own cyber capabilities, and provide additional personnel to the NATO liaison office in Georgia so are concrete steps that can be taken when ministers meet on Thursday.

NATO Spokesperson: We’ll do Politico.

Lili Bayer (POLITICO): Thank you very much, Lili Bayer from Politico. I was wondering if you could perhaps describe in a bit more detail and concretely what are the different options on the table that the ministers will be discussing for further helping Ukraine, Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: So allies will discuss how we can further support Ukraine. This is partly about financial support, partly about humanitarian support, but also of course, partly about military support both non-lethal and lethal military support which allies have provided for several years. I'm a bit careful going into the specific systems, because I think that for operational reasons it is better that Allies actually provide support than that we announce every specific weapon system Allies are transferring over to Ukraine.

But it's well known that we speak about advanced weapon systems, we speak about for instance, javelins and other anti-tank weapons, which have proven extremely effective on the battlefield. If there's anything we have seen is that these relatively light weapons have a huge impact. And when we see all the pictures from the destroyed Russian armour, this is first and foremost the result of these weapons. And of course, the courage of the soldiers who are carrying them. But, I think we have proven the effectiveness of anti-tank weapons delivered by NATO allies.

The Ukrainians have also been able to shoot down advanced Russian planes, but also helicopters. And other drones, again, because of advanced air defence systems delivered by NATO allies, and we are looking into other systems and allies are constantly stepping up and providing more support, partly as weapons, but you know, we also need fuel, you need ammunition, you need a lot of different types of supplies, you need helmets, you need protective gear, you need medical supplies, to run such a big military operation. So this is partly about high end weapon systems, but also very much about the logistics and the supplies you need to run this kind of big military operation as the Ukrainians have run now for several weeks.

NATO Spokesperson: Wall Street Journal.

Dan Michaels (Wall Street Journal): Dan Michaels, with the Wall Street Journal. Thank you very much. If I could follow up on the last question. Mr. Secretary General, as you said at the beginning, it looks like the war is changing. The Russians are regrouping in the south east. They're now more massed. They have more armour from Crimea, from Donbas, it would seem that the battle is going to change qualitatively, it's no longer going to be one where Ukrainians are picking off over extended supply lines or isolated troops. Do the Ukrainians have what they need to fight what may be a more traditional type of ground war against a more massed Russian force, or does NATO need to step up with a different type of weapons system or different type of support to help the Ukrainians against a much more concentrated Russian occupation force? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General:  So NATO allies are in close contact with Ukraine and we will also have the Ukrainian foreign minister Kuleba coming to the NATO ministerial meeting. And I expect that he will address the needs that Ukraine have or has to reinforce their troops and to make sure that they continue to push back and to provide fierce resistance against the invading Russian troops. So both the dialogue between different NATO Allies and Ukraine, but also the dialogue we have here at NATO, it's important to make sure that we deliver as much support as we can, and also that we deliver the capabilities that Ukraine needs.

So I expect them meeting tomorrow and the day after tomorrow will provide the platform for that kind of discussions. We are now seeing a new phase of the war, because Russia is really moving out not only of Kyiv but also of most of the North, at least reducing significantly their presence there. Because they failed. President Putin didn't manage to achieve the objectives he set for his military operation. His goal was to take Kyiv within days. Now he has been there for so many weeks. And still has not been able to take Kyiv and many other cities in the north. So he's now moving many of those troops out of the north into Belarus, down to the east into Russia. And there they will be remanned because many have lost a lot of troops in the different units. They will be rearmed because they've used a lot of ammunition and they will be resupplied with fuel and all the things they need, food and so on, to launch a new big offensive.

So what we are expecting is a new very concentrated Russian offensive in Donbas, to try to occupy and take the whole of Donbas. That's also the same area where Ukraine has most of their armed forces. So, this whole build-up will take some time, the repositioning of the Russian troops will take some time, some weeks, but after that, we are afraid that we can see a big Russian offensive in Donbas with the aim to take Donbas. In that window, it is extremely important that NATO Allies provide support. So we are able to rearm, to resupply the Ukrainian forces.

And that's exactly what I expect Allies to do. And what I expect Allies to discuss at the meeting tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, including what types of equipment and how we can enable them to stand up against and continue to inflict heavy casualties on the invading Russian forces.

NATO Spokesperson: Okay, Associated Press.

Mark Carlson (Associated Press): Thanks for your question, Mr. Secretary General, Mark from Associated Press. Has NATO's drones or satellite imagery shown any more locations across Ukraine, where there are mass people that have been killed?

NATO Secretary General:  I'm always a bit reluctant to go into details about how we collect intelligence and what kind of detailed information we have but we are monitoring very closely. And we have capabilities, surveillance capabilities that provides us with a lot of information. And this is important and it is something which we use in a good way. Because information, best possible situation awareness is of course, extremely critical in such a dangerous situation as we see in Ukraine now.

NATO Spokesperson: Ok, we have VG.

Alf Bjarne Johnsen (VG): We know there's been talks on high level between NATO, NATO countries and Finland and Sweden for the latest weeks and they have started both a process reviewing whether there will be a membership application. So I wanted to ask you about if you want to comment on the process, and if there has been a discussion with those two countries about intermediate security guarantees for them in a possible intermediate period between an application and a full membership could be granted. Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: It is for Finland and Sweden to decide whether they want to join NATO and NATO will respect the decision they take regardless so whether they decide to try to join or not to join we because we respect decisions by sovereign and independent nations. I have had close contact with the political leadership both in Sweden and Finland over the last months and also the last weeks. And I have conveyed the message that it's for them to decide of course, but if they apply, I expect that 30 Allies will welcome them and that we will find ways to also address the concerns they may have about this interim period between the have applied and until that the last ratification has taken place.

NATO is the strongest alliance in history and by standing together we provide security for all Allies and that we protect values we have in common with Finland and Sweden, democracy, the rule of law, and we live in a more dangerous world. So it's even more important that we stand together. Finland and Sweden are close partners. We have worked with them, trained with them for many, many years.

And we're also now since the invasion actually activated some mechanisms we have to integrate them Finland, Sweden even more into our deliberations and into meetings and activities in NATO. But of course Finland and Sweden are not full members. So they are close partners. We work closely together. But our collective defence guarantees they apply for members and only for members.

NATO Spokesperson: Frankfurter Allgemeine.

Thomas Gutschker (FAZ): Secretary General, the foreign ministers will also discuss the new Strategic Concept and you are entering the drafting phase now. Before the war, you have always described relations between NATO and Russia with the three Ds, deterrence and defence plus dialogue. In the New Strategic Concept, do you see any room for dialogue at all given what has happened in the meantime? And what kind of outlook are you suggesting to allies to contemplate in this drafting process? Thanks a lot.

NATO Secretary General: Our relationship with Russia has fundamentally changed and Russia has walked away from the NATO - Russia Founding Act, the agreement we made to facilitate dialogue between Russia and the NATO back in the 1990s. So this, this doesn't work in the way we've actually tried to achieve the partnership, the cooperation and dialogue we have worked for, for many years with Russia. That doesn't exist anymore. So our relationship with Russia has fundamentally changed.

At the same time, we will need to continue to engage with Russia, because Russia is our neighbour, and we need to also manage a difficult relationship, including issues like risk reduction, transparency, deconfliction, and also issues related to arms control. But meaningful dialogue, as we strived for before, is not an option for Russia, which is so blatantly violating international law, which is using military force against an independent, sovereign nation as Ukraine, and which is responsible for atrocities, for the suffering we see taking place in Ukraine every day.

NATO Spokesperson: NTV.

Gul Sonomut (NTV): Secretary General, Sonomut from NTV Turkey. I have a follow up on the Strategic Concept question. The Strategic Concept has been drafted before the war started in Ukraine. And you said that at the beginning of the war that there is a new reality. Do you think that there is enough time, 11 weeks, by the summit in in June to update again the Strategic Concept? Do you envisage to update also NATO 2030 so that the institution itself, NATO, IS, IMS, could face also the new challenges? And do you, for example, foresee to increase the permanent available troops to SACEUR from 40,000, which is the level today, to 60, 90,000 or at least for the new reality? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: I'm absolutely confident that when the NATO leaders meet at NATO Summit in Madrid at the end of June, we will be able to agree an updated and good new Strategic Concept. We have started the discussions and of course, we will take into account the Russian invasion of Ukraine as we finalise the Strategic Concept, but I think we have to remember that actually, we predicted precisely based on our intelligence as early as last fall, that it was highly likely that Russia was going to invade Ukraine. So that has been part of our deliberations for many months.

Of course, there is a difference between having intelligence predicting that an invasion will take place, and actually see it takes place as we saw on the 24th of February, but it was not a big surprise. I think it's hardly any other invasion in the world or at least few other invasions we have seen all through history, which has been more predicted than the invasion by Russia into Ukraine. Therefore, also NATO was well prepared. And actually, we have been stepping up since the first Russian invasion of Ukraine back in 2014. Since 2014, since Russia went in and illegally annexed Crimea and destabilised and supported the separatists in Donbas in eastern Ukraine, NATO has implemented the biggest reinforcement in our collective defence in a generation, with battlegroups in the eastern part of the Alliance.

After years of reducing defence spending all Allies have increased defence spending, and we have tripled the size of the NATO Response Force. And actually, the weeks before the invasion, we increased the readiness of the NATO Response Force, we increase the presence of NATO troops in the eastern part of the Alliance, before they invaded. Because we saw the intelligence, we saw the clear warnings about that was most likely going to happen. Then after the invasion, we stepped up further. And now we have 40,000 troops under direct NATO command in the eastern part of the Alliance. There are 100,000 US troops in Europe, a significant increase, and then we have hundreds of 1000s of NATO troops on heightened alert. All of this supported by hundreds of ships and planes, substantial naval, and airpower.

So we have already, since 2014, implemented a huge reinforcement to our collective defence and then on top of that added some immediate responses as a result of the invasion in February. But we face a new security reality. And therefore, we also need to implement some more long term changes to deterrence and defence posture.

And that's what we are asked our military commanders to provide options. We will have those options within some weeks. And then based on the options from the military commanders, we will make decisions on the more longer term reset, on NATO’s deterrence and defence, based on of course what we've already done. And that will be for the leaders to decide in June. But I expect that to be significantly more presence, on land, troops, advanced weapon systems, but also air defence systems, more air presence, at sea, ships, submarines and, in general, to do more to strengthen our collective defence not only with traditional military means, but also cyber, hybrid, space.

So we will see a significant reinforcement. All of this will require more defence spending. And what we see is that Allies started to increase defence spending after 2014, after the invasion this year of Ukraine. We have seen new announcements not least by Germany, but also by other Allies, Italy, Denmark, others, are now stepping up so there will be more funding for more modern equipment. And this is just reflecting the brutal new security reality we face. As long as we stand together 30 allies and invest in our defence we are all safe and secure.

NATO Spokesperson: We’ll take two final quick questions, one here, one online. ZDF, here.

Florian Neuhann (ZDF): Thank you very much. Mr. Stoltenberg, Florian Neuhann from ZDF, German television. First question, Russia is still claiming that the images of Bucha have been doctored. What do you make of these claims and how certain are you that these war crimes have really been committed by Russians? And a second question if I may. On Sunday, Ukrainian president Zelenskyy said it was an historic error of the west, of NATO, not to offer membership to Ukraine. What is your assessment? Was it wrong not to offer membership to Ukraine at the time?

NATO Secretary General: We have seen the atrocities in Bucha, and other places in Ukraine. These atrocities have taken place during a period in which Russia controlled these areas, so they are responsible. Second, we have information from many different sources. And also from open sources, from media, from commercial satellites, and all are telling the same story, that there have been brutal atrocities committed many different places in Ukraine, and that these have taken place in a period where Russia controlled these territories. I'm afraid that that we will see more. That we will see more examples of the killing of civilians, more examples of atrocities, and more examples of targeting the killing of civilians which actually are war crimes.

Because I think we haven't seen everything that has taken place because Russia still controls most of these territories. But when and if they withdraw the troops and Ukraine’s troops take over, I'm afraid they will see more mass graves, more atrocities, and more examples of war crimes. So therefore, it just highlights the importance of a thorough investigation. NATO allies are providing support the UN, to the International Criminal Court, to collect evidence, to preserve evidence, to collect relevant information and to enable them to conduct the thorough investigations and to have a legal process to make sure that all those responsible for these atrocities are held accountable. All facts must be established and we need legal processes.

NATO membership is something which is decided by 30 Allies. […] Allies agreed in 2008, since 2008, NATO allies have provided support to Ukraine. But we have not had consensus on granting membership. I think now after the invasion of Ukraine, we need a discussion in NATO, on how to support and help all the countries in more or less the same situation as Ukraine. Countries that are not member of EU, not member of NATO, but are aspiring to join NATO and or the European Union. And I think one lesson learned from Ukraine is that it's better to provide support sooner than later. So for me, this is a very strong message both when it comes to the need to provide support to Ukraine now. But second also, to really look hard and have a hard look into what can we do for countries like Georgia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and others.

NATO Spokesperson: And the final question online, we’ll go to Naomi O’Leary from the Irish Times.

Naomi O’Leary (The Irish Times): Thank you very much for taking my question, Secretary General. Given that we have public declarations from the Russian regime from Mr. Putin Himself and also from state media that the intention is to kill quite a broadly defined group of the Ukrainian population, and we now have evidence of the killings of civilians in areas under Russian control. Does this change anything about what NATO is willing to do to push Russian forces or to help the push of Russian forces out of the areas of Ukraine that are still under Russian control, given the likelihood of further atrocities that you mentioned? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: We will discuss at the NATO the foreign minister meeting today and tomorrow, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, what more we can do? And I expect to be the discussion about how to provide further military support, what kind of systems, how can we enable the Ukrainians to stand up against invading Russian forces and the support we have already provided has had an obvious impact we see that they are able to actually take out a lot of for instance […] Russian armour and they've been able to actually defeat them and several places and force them to totally change the Russian war plan. They're moving out of Kyiv, the North, to regroup and to move into the East.

So yes, I think we will consider what more we can do. But at the same time, our allies agree that we should not send NATO troops into Ukraine. And we should not send NATO planes into Ukrainian airspace. And that's because we also have the responsibility to prevent a war between Russia and NATO. That will cause more deaths, more destruction, and even more dangers. So yes, we will discuss how we can further support, what more we can do to support Ukraine, including what kind of costs, additional costs, we can put on Russia. I welcome that allies are discussing more sanctions, but I don't expect any Ally to be in favour of sending NATO troops into Ukraine.

NATO Spokesperson: Thank you very much. This concludes this press conference.

NATO Secretary General: Thank you.