Doorstep statement

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Defence format

  • 15 Nov. 2022 -
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  • Last updated: 15 Nov. 2022 14:18

(As delivered)

Good afternoon,
I’m looking forward to meeting with the EU Defence Ministers. 

NATO-EU cooperation is as close as ever before and the fact that we have been able to lift the NATO-EU cooperation to unprecedented levels is especially important now, as we live in a more dangerous time as we see the ongoing war in Ukraine.

I expect that we will, of course, discuss Russia's brutal war of aggression against Ukraine during our meeting.

We all welcome the progress that Ukrainian forces have made over the last days, in particular with the liberation of Kherson. This is due to the bravery, the courage of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

At the same time, I think it's important too, that we do not make the mistake to underestimate Russia. Russia retains significant military capabilities, a high number of troops. We have seen that Russia is willing to suffer high casualties and also, we have seen the brutality, not least in the areas that have been liberated. How brutality has been exercised against civilians in in those territories.

So we need to continue to provide support to Ukraine for as long as it takes with capabilities but also with training.
Last week I visited a training facility in the United Kingdom where different NATO Allies provide training to Ukrainian soldiers. I welcome the EU decision to establish training for Ukrainian forces. This will complement what NATO Allies already do. It is important that we provide more training because the Ukrainians are fighting a battle, which is bloody and extremely challenging.

Let me also say that I welcome the progress we are making on military mobility, an important part of the NATO-EU cooperation, and it is important that we have the fullest possible involvement of also non-EU NATO allies and this is part of what we're going to discuss with the EU Defence Ministers in just a moment. 

Reporter: You said that you welcomed the decision to establish a EU training mission, but this comes nine months after the beginning of the war. The Latvian defence minister said that they had proposed such a training mission already two years ago. Is the EU again coming too late for this?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
You know, many EU members have already participated in different ways in the training activities with NATO Allies. So this is something we work together. We do it together in different formats, but primarily we speak about the same nations providing training to Ukrainian forces. NATO Allies have provided training to Ukrainian forces since 2014. In particular, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, have conducted significant training in Ukraine since the illegal annexation of Crimea, but also some EU NATO members have been part of these efforts. And then for instance, in the United Kingdom, where they're already trained close to 10,000 troops just this year. We have Denmark, we have Sweden, we have the Netherlands, we have several other EU members that are also NATO Allies participating in those training activities. Together with other partners of NATO like New Zealand and Australia. So countries may be members of different organizations but the good thing is that they work together in different formats to provide more training for Ukraine. So therefore welcome the EU efforts, it will complement the efforts by NATO Allies that has taken place over several years. Of course, also NATO Allies stepped up after the invasion. But tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops have been already trained by NATO Allies and this has helped the Ukrainians to just stand up against the Russian invasion.

Reuters: What do you think of Mr. Borrell’s announcement [inaudible]

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
It is extremely important that we replenish stocks and this is also something which we have addressed in the NATO format. We had a meeting with all the defense ministers where that was one of the main topics. I welcome that NATO Allies have digged into their stocks of ammunition or weapons to provide support to Ukraine. But at the same time, when NATO Allies, EU members or non EU members, reduced the stocks, then we need to ensure that we replenish those stocks. We have a defense planning process in NATO where we set targets for different types of weapons, different types of stocks of ammunition. And we will of course, ensure that Allies then replenish both to provide necessary defense and events and but also to be able to continue to provide support to Ukraine. I welcome initiatives by the European Union also to coordinate what European countries and also European NATO Allies do together. We speak very much about the same countries because when Finland and Sweden now join NATO, 96% of the people in the European Union will live in a NATO country. So when we do things together, we actually speak very much about the same countries. But I welcome efforts by the European Union to try to coordinate procurement. I think that can help to reduce costs, bigger orders, and it can also address the fragmentation of the European defense industry, which is an issue I have addressed for many years, not least because we know that for instance, the United States, they are many battle tanks but only one type. In Europe, we have much fewer battle tanks and nine different types. And this increases the costs of maintenance or production, and therefore initiatives by the European Union to address the fragmentation of the European defense industry is something we welcome in NATO.

Reporter: [inaudible]

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
First of all, we will have a foreign minister meeting in Bucharest at the end of this month. That will provide us with an opportunity to both express strong support to Ukraine to discuss how to step up and sustain support for Ukraine. It will also be an opportunity to take stock of the implementation of decisions made on strengthen NATO's deterrence and defense, but also to meet with partners of course Georgia is an important partner. And especially now, when we see the war going on in Ukraine. It's even more important that we work closely with partners as Georgia and that certainly will be one of the messages from the foreign minister meeting in in Bucharest. Thank you.