by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg outside No. 10
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: I just finished a very good and productive meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and I praised him and the United Kingdom for the strong support to our transatlantic Alliance, to NATO.
In a dangerous world, it's even more important that North America and Europe stand together in NATO, and the United Kingdom is a key and leading ally in many different ways.
The United Kingdom leads our multinational battlegroup in Estonia. The United Kingdom keeps the skies over our eastern flank safe by being part of our air policing in the eastern part of the Alliance. And British naval ships are an important part of NATO patrols around NATO territory.
I also praised the Prime Minister for the strong support the United Kingdom provides to Ukraine. This morning I visited one of the training sites for Ukrainian soldiers. I saw, here in the United Kingdom, and I saw the brave young Ukrainian soldiers being trained by British trainers, but also trainers from Canada, from Lithuania, from other NATO Allied countries, proving how the United Kingdom plays a key role in leading our efforts in providing support to Ukraine.
The United Kingdom have done that for many years and trained close to 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers, stepped up after the invasion and the message is that we need to continue to support Ukraine. If President Putin wins in Ukraine, it will be disastrous for Ukrainians but it also makes us more vulnerable because then the message to President Putin, to other authoritarian leaders, will be that they can get their way, achieve their goals by using brutal military force.
So it was a good meeting. And I am confident that I'm continuing to count on the United Kingdom as a leading NATO Ally.
Reporter (BBC): Secretary General, how concerned are you by the risk of Ukraine fatigue. In particularly, are you worried about the elections results in the United States, with more Republicans being elected, who are calling for the US to diminish its support for Ukraine?
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: President Putin made several huge mistakes when he invaded Ukraine, strategic mistakes. One was to underestimate that the Ukrainians, their courage, their commitment to fight and protect their own country. The other mistake he made was to underestimate NATO Allies, partners, in our ability to support Ukraine. And what we have seen is that NATO Allies and partners have provided unprecedented support to Ukraine. And what we see when you look at the opinion polls, the political messages from different NATO Allied countries, is that we are ready to continue to provide support for as long as it takes. Of course, there are always some voices that have a different opinion. And that's always the case in democratic societies, but the overall majority, the clear message from NATO Allies, is that we will continue to support Ukraine. It's in our interest that they win, that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign independent nation in Europe. And when it comes to the elections in the United States…well, it's not for me to go into the details of those outcomes, especially because there's still counting going on. But it's absolutely clear that there is a strong bipartisan support in the United States for continued support for Ukraine. And that has not changed with the elections that has taken place in the United States yesterday.
Reporter (Unspecified Outlet): Are you reassured by the government's defensive spending plans?
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: The United Kingdom has led by example over many years when it comes to also defence spending, spending more than 2% of GDP on defence. The United Kingdom has done that and now more and more Allies are following the example of the United Kingdom, because in a more dangerous world we need to invest more in our defence and I'm absolutely confident that the United Kingdom will continue to lead by example on defence spending.
Reporter (Unspecified Outlet): Russia just announced their withdrawal from Kherson, what do you think, what's your reaction to this event?
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: We have seen the announcement, but we will of course, wait and see what actually happens on the ground. What we do know is that Russia has been pushed back, first from the north around Kyiv. Then in the east around Kharkiv, and then actually we see slowly how the Ukrainians are able to push back the Russian forces also in the south around Kherson. So, it is encouraging to see how the brave Ukrainian forces are able to liberate more Ukrainian territory, the victories, the gains the Ukrainian armed forces are making belongs to the brave, courageous Ukrainian soldiers. But of course the support they receive from the United Kingdom, from NATO Allies and partners is also essential. So the support we deliver including the training I saw this morning here in United Kingdom is essential, it will continue and that is also the message when it comes to the situation… around Kherson, that we will continue to support Ukraine.