Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell

  • 21 Feb. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 21 Feb. 2023 16:53

(As delivered)

Minister Kuleba, dear Dmytro,
High Representative Borrell, dear Josep,
It is great to see you both here at NATO Headquarters, so welcome to both of you.

This is a symbol of our solidarity.
NATO and the European Union.
Standing with Ukraine.

A year ago, President Putin launched his illegal war against a peaceful neighbour.

The facts are clear for all to see.
Nobody is attacking Russia.
Russia is the aggressor.
Ukraine is the victim of aggression.
And we are supporting Ukraine’s right to self-defence, a right which is enshrined in the UN Charter. 

It is President Putin who started this imperial war of conquest.
It is Putin who keeps escalating the war.

He thought he could destroy Ukraine and divide us.
But he underestimated the determination of the Ukrainian people to defend their homeland.
And he underestimated our unity. 

One year since he launched the Russian invasion, 
we see no sign that President Putin is preparing for peace. 
On the contrary, as he made clear today, he is preparing for more war.

Russia is launching new offensives.
Mobilising more troops.
And reaching out to North Korea and Iran.

We are also increasingly concerned that China may be planning to provide lethal support for Russia’s war.

Putin must not win.
That would show that aggression works.
And force is rewarded.
It would be dangerous for our own security, and for the whole world.
So we must sustain and step up our support for Ukraine.
We must give Ukraine what they need to win.
And prevail as a sovereign independent nation in Europe.

I welcome the recent announcements by Allies on new tanks, heavy weaponry, and training for Ukrainian troops.  
It is urgent to deliver on all these pledges. 

This has become a grinding war of attrition,
A battle of logistics.
And key capabilities must reach Ukraine before Russia can seize the momentum.

So Foreign Minister Kuleba, High Representative Borrell and I discussed the need to ramp up production.
And improve our procurement systems.
To continue supporting Ukraine. 

Upon Ukraine’s request, we have agreed that NATO should assist Ukraine to develop a procurement system that is effective, transparent and accountable.

We also agreed today to convene a meeting of NATO, EU and Ukrainian procurement experts to see what more we can do together to ensure Ukraine has the weapons it needs. 

In NATO, we have been working on ramping up production for many months.
NATO sets the standards for ammunitions and equipment for all Allies.

We have completed an extraordinary survey of munitions stockpiles.
We met with defence industry last fall and continue to engage with them.
And we will increase our targets for munitions stockpiles through the NATO Defence Planning Process.
This will also help give defence industry the long-term demand and contracts they need to invest and produce more.

NATO has had joint procurement among Allies for many years.
I also commend the European Union for their efforts to incentivise greater production.
And NATO is prepared to work with the EU on this going forward.

We have seen a pattern of Russian aggression over many years.
Georgia in 2008.
Crimea and Donbas, 2014.
And the full-fledged invasion last year.

We must make clear that Ukraine’s future is within the Euro-Atlantic family.
When the war ends, we need to put in place long-term arrangements for Ukraine’s security.
To ensure that Russia does not continue to chip away at European security.
And to break the cycle of Russian aggression.
So NATO will continue to stand with Ukraine. 
For as long as it takes.
And we will continue to work closely with the European Union to support you.

Let me conclude with this, I regret today’s decision by Russia to suspend its participation in the New START Treaty.
Over the last years Russia has violated and walked away from key arms control agreements.
With today’s decision on New START, the whole arms control architecture has been dismantled.
I strongly encourage Russia to reconsider its decision and to respect existing agreements. 

And with that, I give the floor to you, Dmytro, please.



NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Okay, we'll start with Interfax Ukraine, lady at the bank.

Irina Somer, Ukranian News Agency Interfax:
Thank you Oana. Ukrainian News Agency Interfax, Ukraine, Irina Somer. Secretary General, what is your assessment of today's Putin threat? How serious are they? If you allow, I will quote: the more long range weapons the West gives Kiev, the further Russia will be forced to push the threat away from itself.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
What you have seen today is that President Putin is in no way preparing for peace. He's preparing for more war. He's preparing for new offensives, and he is mobilizing more troops and sending in more weapons and that's exactly why we need to step up our support for Ukraine, because it will be a tragedy for Ukrainians but also dangerous for all of us, if President Putin wins in Ukraine. Then we have to remember this is this is a war of choice. This is a war of aggression. Russia decides to invade a neighbour, Ukraine. And Ukraine of course has the right to defend itself. That's enshrined in the UN Charter. And we, NATO Allies, EU members, all of us have the right to provide support to Ukraine. And that's exactly what we are doing.

Then, of course, NATO Allies, we are providing support to Ukraine, unpresented support. We step up and deliver more heavier, more advanced weapons and we have constant consultations with Ukraine on different types of weapons, but also on how to ensure that all the systems, all the weapons that are already there work as they should.

Because we need to remember this is not only about providing new systems but also ensuring that the artillery, the armor, the air-defence systems, which have been delivered already, have the spare parts, have the ammunition, have the maintenance, have the fuel they need to function, and therefore this is really a battle of logistics. And that's reason why I also welcome the meeting today, where we focus on how we can ensure that we provide all the supplies and all the support Ukraine needs to defend itself.

Then, of course, NATO also has another task, and that is to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine. And that's reason why we, on the morning of the invasion, activated our defence plans, and added thousands of more troops to our presence in eastern part of the Alliance, backed by significant air and naval power to send a very clear message to Moscow that NATO is there to protect every inch of NATO territory. If one Ally is attacked, it will be regarded as an attack on the whole Alliance. So we will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes and we will continue to provide a credible deterrence and defence for all NATO territory.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:

James Bays, Al Jazeera:
James Bays from Al Jazeera. Secretary General, on New START, can you tell us how worried should we all be? Does it make the world a more dangerous place now?
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
More nuclear weapons and less arms control makes the world more dangerous. And that's the reason why in NATO we have worked so hard to engage Russia on issues related to arms control and why NATO Allies have supported the New START, and also why I'm calling on Russia today to reconsider its decision to suspend its participation in the New START agreement.

We have to remember that this is one of the last major arms control agreements we have. After Russia started to violate the agreement that banned older intermediate range weapons, the INF Treaty, that led to the demise of that treaty a few years ago. Now they're actually suspending the other big nuclear arms control treaty, the New START, which regulates and puts limits on the total number of long range strategic weapons.

So this is just another example that we are moving away from the arms control architecture, the international rules based order we have used decades to build it step by step and by an agreement. So the combination of Russia violating some of these agreements, leading to the demise of the INF Treaty, and then walking away from the New START, makes the world more dangerous and just highlights the importance of that we stand together, all those countries that believe in the rules based international order, and that believe in freedom and democracy.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:
Deutsche Welle, NPR.

Teri Schultz, Deutsche Welle/NPR
Thank you. Going back to two joint procurement issues, Minister Kuleba, the fact that as Mr. Borrell says, this is the first time you're standing here and you've got a war that's been going on a year and that you're only now rapping up these coordination mechanisms: is this too late for you? Should this have been foreseen? How desperate is the ammunition shortfall right now as everybody's top priority? And High Representative Borrell, how fast can you move on the EU side, on this proposal by the Estonians to put 4 billion in a fund and make joint procurement that way as some people say, like you did with the vaccines, to give industry the security? And Secretary General Stoltenberg. I've spoken again with industry and they say again, the contracts are not coming in. So I know I asked you this last week, but it still seems to be true. And I'm told that there is still this huge gap between what people are putting on paper, what money they're putting on the table and what is needed. How long would it take now to scale up this ammunition production? Borrell is saying weeks, there's no way, is there? Thanks.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
So for the industry to produce, they need contracts and that has been the message from the industry all the way and that's also reason why we started to engage with the industry last fall when we saw that this war was dragging on and that was urgently to ramp up production.

Because as Minister Kuleba said, in the beginning, we were actually depleting our own stocks. But then we saw that the rate of consumption of ammunition is much higher than the rate of production and therefore this is not sustainable, therefore we need to produce more. But this is not something we discovered now. We discovered this many months ago, and therefore we have been engaged with industry [inaudible], for a long time. And contracts have been signed. United States, France and Norway among others. But as Mr. Kuleba said, Dmytro said, we need we need to speed up. We need to do more. And that's exactly why we are meeting here, to see how can we mobilize even more, how can we speed up production. Partly by coordinating, and partly by improving the procedures, because big investment projects takes time.

There's a lot of bureaucratic work that has to be done to ensure accountability, transparency and also effective contracts. So that's exactly why we are working as NATO, with our own agencies and our own systems and our own armament directors while we are working with the European Union. And now we are also working with Ukraine directly and also in this group of three and why we have decided to convene our experts to follow up and see what more we can do to ramp up production and in a faster way. And also why NATO has decided to assist Ukraine with strengthening their capacity to do procurement.

So, so this is one element of many steps that we are taking together to ensure that we have sufficient ammunition, but those are weapons to both replenish our own stockpiles, but also to deliver to Ukraine. The last thing is that we also of course, reach out to international partners and to see to what extent they can help to provide the necessary direct support to Ukraine, or at least replenish our own stocks.

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