Press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Minister of Defence of Germany, Boris Pistorius

  • 24 Jan. 2023 -
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  • Mis à jour le: 24 Jan. 2023 17:55

(As delivered)

Dear Minister Pistorius,
Dear Boris,

Thank you so much for the warm welcome, And thank you for the very good meeting. Congratulations on your appointment.

You have been a member of NATO Parliamentary Assembly for many, many years. So I know that you are a staunch supporter of the Alliance.

And I very much look forward to working with you.

You are taking up your position at a time when we again see full-fledged war in Europe.
Creating the greatest danger to our security in generations.

That is why German leadership is more important than ever.

The bravery of the Ukrainian forces has inspired the whole world.
At the same time, we should not underestimate Russia.

President Putin has proved that he is willing to pay a high price for this unjust war.
He has mobilized over 200,000 troops.
And is acquiring new weapons from other authoritarian regimes, such as Iran and North-Korea.

But most importantly we have no indication that President Putin has changed his goals.
He wants to control Ukraine.
And is planning new offensives.

The only way to lasting peace is to make it clear to Putin that he will not win on the battlefield.

Therefore, we must provide heavier and more advanced systems so that the Ukrainian forces are able to repel the Russian forces.
Not only to survive.
But to win, take back territory and prevail as a sovereign, independent state in Europe.

Germany is among the Allies providing the most military, financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

This includes air defence systems such as Gepard and IRIS-T, artillery and ammunition.
You have recently also announced the delivery of advanced Patriot systems, and modern infantry fighting vehicles.

Weapons from Germany are saving lives in Ukraine every day.
Protecting homes, schools and hospitals from Russian missile strikes.

Other NATO Allies are also stepping up.
The United States announced in Ramstein on Friday, another substantial package of 2.5 billion US dollars.
Including many Bradley and Stryker infantry fighting vehicles, and more long-range fires and modern air defence systems.

And France, the United Kingdom and other Allies have announced that they will deliver tanks.
I welcome these announcements.

At this pivotal moment in the war, we must provide heavier and more advanced systems to Ukraine.
And we must do it faster.

Therefore I welcome our discussions today.
We discussed the issue of battle tanks.
Consultations among Allies will continue and I am confident that we will have a solution soon.

Germany plays a key role in our Alliance.
The Zeitenwende announced by Chancellor Scholz is historic.
With a special 100 billion Euro defence fund for fifth-generation aircraft, new helicopters, ships, tanks and ammunition.

You are already one of the biggest troop contributors to NATO’s missions and operations.

You lead NATO forces in Lithuania.
Your jets patrol Allied skies.
And 15,000 German troops are committed to NATO’s rapid response forces.
This significantly contributes to strengthen our deterrence and defence.

So Minister Pistorius,
Thank you again for our excellent meeting and for very fruitful discussions.
I look forward to welcoming you to our Defence Ministers’ meeting in Brussels next month.
Thank you.

Q [outlet not identified]:

Secretary General, could you tell us how decisive you believe is the question whether Main Battle Tanks can be provided to Ukraine? How decisive for the outcome of the war? Is there a danger of Ukraine being run over by Russian forces?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:

Battle tanks are of course important, both to be able to repel Russian new offensives, but also for Ukraine to be able to retake territory to win and to prevail as a sovereign independent nation in in Europe.

At the same time, we need to understand that Allies have already decided to deliver both battle tanks but also to deliver more armoured vehicles including infantry fighting vehicles. So what we need is heavier, more modern equipment and that's exactly what Allies have already announced to deliver. Germany has announced to deliver Marder infantry fighting vehicles, the United States has decided to deliver many Bradleys and Strikers and also other types of armoured vehicles, Canada, other Allies are also stepping up with different types of armoured vehicles and infantry fighting vehicles.

Then some Allies have already delivered battle tanks including some of our eastern Allies. France has announced that they will deliver a light battle tank and then the United Kingdom has announced that they will deliver modern Main Battle Tanks, the Challenger 2.

So if you put all of this together, the German announcements, the announcement from other Allies are a wide range of different types of armour to Ukraine. This is a huge additional contribution to the combat capabilities of Ukraine.

And this is urgent, this is important because Russia is preparing for new offensives. We need to enable the Ukrainians sooner or faster to be able to repel those offenses and also enable them to retake [and] liberate their own territory. Then we had a good discussion today on the issue of German battle tanks, and I'm confident that there will be a solution soon.

And I welcome also the clear message from the Minister that our other Allies, other NATO Allies that have Leopard battle tanks are of course free to identify those Leopard battle tanks that may be available for Ukraine. To make them ready, but also to start training of Ukrainian crews for those battle tanks. Because after the decision has been taken on delivery of battle tanks, it will take some time to identify, to make ready and to train Ukrainian crews. And I welcome the clear message from Minister Pistorius that Allies with Leopard battle tanks are actually urged to start that work.


Mr. Stoltenberg, how frustrated are you by this row over German battle tanks and the risk that that will create some at least the impression of a lack of Western unity?

NATO Secretary General:

The most important thing is that Chancellor Scholz and also Minister Pistorius they're absolutely right when they point out the significant contributions, Germany has delivered and continues to deliver to Ukraine, that's actually a substance that matters. It makes a difference on the battlefield every day.

The fact that Germany is the one of the Allies that are providing the most support when it comes to artillery, ammunition, advanced air defence systems, the Gepards, the IRIS-T, and also now heavy infantry fighting vehicles, the Marders. These are these are important armoured capabilities that significantly strengthen the combat capability of Ukraine.

And therefore I agree with the Chancellor and also the Minister that actually we need to remember and recognise these significant German contributions. Then other Allies are providing similar capabilities, air defences or armoured vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, and some Allies are also providing battle tanks.

Then we have a discussion on the Leopards. And I think that's a kind of natural part of an evolving policy when it comes to exactly what kind of capabilities we should deliver to Ukraine. And I think it's important also to protect this space for confidential consultations among Allies.

That's part of being an Alliance of 30 Allies and actually we're also working with a lot of partners as we did in Ramstein, to consult, to assess and then to make decisions in close consultation. And also, I welcome of course, the message from the Minister that there will be a conclusion soon because time matters, and big announcements were made last week. And there will be new announcements as we move forward as an Alliance. Thank you.