by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
Foreign Minister Kuleba,
Welcome to NATO.
It is always a great pleasure to welcome you here.
And let me start by expressing how much we admire your courage, your leadership.
You personally, but also the Government of Ukraine, the people of Ukraine.
And, of course, the bravery and the courage of Ukrainian armed forces.
What you do every day, standing up against the Russian aggression, is something that inspires the whole world.
And as you know, NATO Allies have provided support for Ukraine for many years.
Trained tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops.
And now Allies are providing equipment, support to you to uphold your right for self defence.
A right which is enshrined in the UN Charter.
And it is an urgent need to further support Ukraine.
And at our meeting later on with the NATO Foreign Ministers, I am certain that we will address the need for more air defence systems, anti-tank weapons, lighter, but also heavier weapons, and many different types of support to Ukraine.
NATO also has a responsibility to, of course, protect and defend all Allies.
So we have since the invasion of Ukraine stepped up our military presence in eastern part of the Alliance.
And we are making sure that there is no room for misunderstanding, miscalculation in Moscow about our readiness to protect and defend all Allies.
You being here provides us with the very good opportunity to sit down with you.
To listen to your assessment, your analysis.
And together, discuss the way forward, how we can further support Ukraine.
So dear, Dmytro, please, welcome.
It is good to have you here.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba:
Thank you, Jens, for welcoming me.
I came to Brussels to participate in the NATO ministerial.
And to hold bilateral meetings with Allies.
My agenda is very simple.
It only has three items on it.
It’s weapons, weapons, and weapons.
We are confident that the best way to help Ukraine now is to provide it with all necessary to contain Putin, and to defeat Russian army in Ukraine, in the territory of Ukraine, so that the war does not spill over further.
In the recent month, in the recent weeks Ukrainian army and the entire Ukrainian nation has demonstrated that we know how to fight.
We know how to win.
But without sustainable and sufficient supplies of all weapons requested by Ukraine, these wins will be accompanied with enormous sacrifices.
The more weapons we get, and the sooner they arrive in Ukraine, the more human lives will be saved.
The more cities and villages will not be destructed.
And there will be no more Buchas.
This is my message to the Allies.
It is very simple.
And I call on all Allies to put aside their hesitations.
Their reluctance to provide Ukraine with everything it needs.
Because, as weird as it may sound, but today weapons serve the purpose of peace.
Question 1: Secretary General, are you ready or are Allies ready to send more offensive weapons to Ukraine? And one question to the Minister. Do you think that Germany is doing enough?
NATO Secretary General: Allies are sending many different types of weapons. And I think also we need to realize that Allies have supported Ukraine for many years. And these weapons, so the support we have provided is proving its importance on the battleground every day. We can see all the Russian armor that has been destroyed. We have seen the Russian planes being shut down. And of course, this is first and foremost because of the bravery, the commitment and the courage of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. But the equipment that has been supplied is of course also of vital importance. I have urged Allies to provide further support of many different types of systems. Both the light weapons but also heavier weapons. It is as Foreign Minister Kuleba states, Ukraine needs weapons to defend its own country. And this is actually defensive self-defence also, of course, with advanced weapon systems. So I expect this to be one important issue at the meeting today.
Minister Kuleba: When it comes to Ukraine, there should be no such difference as between defensive weapons and offensive weapons. Because every weapon used in the territory of Ukraine, by the Ukrainian army, against a foreign aggressor is defensive by definition. So this distinction between defensive and offensive doesn't make any sense when it comes to the situation in my country. And those countries who are saying we will provide Ukraine with defensive weapons but we are not in a position to provide them with offensive weapons, they are hypocritical. This is simply unfair, unjustified approach.
Germany, as you perfectly know has made a revolutionary step in changing its position from not agreeing to supply any weapons at all, to allowing certain supplies and providing Ukraine in particular with anti-tank weapons. However, it's clear that Germany can do more given its reserves, reserves and capacity and we are working with the German government on providing us with additional weapons. The issue that concerns me the most is the length of procedures and decision making in Berlin. Because while Berlin has time, Kyiv doesn't.
Question 2: Minister, what do you think about the most recent sanctions proposals?
Minister Kuleba: Well, I hope they will be applied in full. This is definitely a step forward. A week ago, the sanctions proposals were much weaker, to say the least. We were very unhappy about it. We were working with partners in G7 and in the European Union to ensure that sanction pressure is stepped up. We succeeded, but I cannot say that we succeeded 100%. We will continue to insist on full oil and gas embargo for Russia, on de-SWIFTing all Russian banks, on making sure that all ports are closed for Russian vessels and Russian goods with the minimal number of exemptions from it based on humanitarian grounds.
And frankly speaking, I hope we will never face a situation again, when to step up the sanctions pressure you need, we need atrocities like Bucha to be revealed and to impress and to shock other partners to the extent that they sit down and say okay, fine, we will introduce new sanctions. I don't believe that Ukrainians have to pay with their lives, health and sufferings for the political will of partners to impose sanctions.
Question 3: Minister, what kind of weapons exactly do you need? Is it planes, long ranging missiles? What exactly are you asking for?
Minister Kuleba: Planes, short to vessel missiles, personnel armored vehicles, heavy air defence systems.
Question 4: Foreign Minister, I would like to ask you, you say: weapons, weapons, weapons are your priorities today. For you on a personal note, how difficult would it be when some of the NATO Allies tell you that they can't give you some weapons because they don't want to plunge the West into a wider war with Russia? And just a word on the support Britain is giving your country.
And Secretary General, can you just remind us what has changed in the last few days in light of the horrors we've seen? And do you think partners in NATO, their minds will be changed today from what you'll hear from the minister?
Minister Kuleba: Yes, there are two ways of approaching the issue of weapons supplies. The first one is when you do not want to supply anything, you come up with the argument: we don't have to do it because it will pull us or NATO as a whole into the war. The second approach is completely different. This line of thinking is completely different. We will provide Ukraine with all necessary weapons so that we, neither we nor NATO as a whole, will have to fight in this war, because Ukrainians will do it for us. I think the deal that Ukraine is offering is fair. You give us weapons, we sacrifice our lives and the war is contained in Ukraine. This is it. The United Kingdom has been at the forefront of providing Ukraine with all necessary assistance and we deeply appreciate that help.
NATO Secretary General: I think fundamentally, what we have seen over the last days is the brutality of this war. And that has just highlighted the importance of support to Ukraine. And therefore I think it is important that we have Minister Kuleba here today to meet all NATO Allies and to discuss how we can further support Ukraine.
NATO Allies are providing many different types of weapons also heavier systems, advanced systems, and also systems that can shoot down planes and of course attack Russian armour. And it is exactly as Minister Kuleba said that, you know, Ukraine is fighting the defensive war. So this distinction between offensive and defensive weapons doesn't actually have any real meaning in defensive war as Ukraine is fighting. What we also have seen is, of course, that we need both the support with weapons but also to step up sanctions. And therefore, I also welcome the fact that NATO Allies are now in the process of stepping up further sanctions on Russia.
NATO provides support to Ukraine but NATO is not sending troops to be on the ground. And we also have a responsibility to prevent this conflict from escalating beyond Ukraine and become even more deadly, even more dangerous and destructive. So we are providing support but at the same time, working hard to prevent the escalation of the conflict.