Pre-ministerial press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meetings of NATO Defence Ministers

  • 13 Feb. 2023 -
  • |
  • Mis à jour le: 13 Feb. 2023 15:25

(As delivered)

Good afternoon.

Our thoughts remain with the Turkish people following last week's devastating earthquakes.

Thousands of emergency response personnel from NATO Allies have been supporting the relief efforts.
Including with search and rescue teams, firefighters, medical personnel and seismic experts.

Moreover, NATO Allies and NATO has agreed to deploy shelter facilities to help accommodate people displaced by the earthquakes.

We stand in strong solidarity with our Ally Türkiye.

NATO Defence Ministers will meet this week at an important moment for transatlantic security.

We will take decisions to strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence.
We will address our industrial capacity, and increase the protection of our critical undersea infrastructure.
And we will step up and sustain our support for Ukraine.

Almost one year since the invasion, President Putin is not preparing for peace.
He is launching new offensives.

So we must continue to provide Ukraine with what it needs to win.
And to achieve a just and sustainable peace.

Ukraine’s Defence Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, will join us tomorrow.
Both for the US-led Contact Group for Ukraine and for a meeting with NATO Ministers.

Together, we will address Ukraine’s urgent needs.

It is clear that we are in a race of logistics.

Key capabilities like ammunition, fuel, and spare parts must reach Ukraine before Russia can seize the initiative on the battlefield.

Speed will save lives.

If Putin wins in Ukraine, the message to him and other authoritarian regimes is that force is rewarded.
That would make the world more dangerous.
And all of us more vulnerable.

So I welcome the recent announcements by Allies on new tanks, heavy weaponry, and training for Ukraine. 
And I look forward to further deliveries.

Our message is clear.
NATO stands with Ukraine.
For as long as it takes.

Ministers will also address how to step up our practical support for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Moldova.

Three valued NATO partners, which face Russian threats.

On Wednesday, Allies will take decisions to further strengthen our deterrence and defence.

We have already done a lot.
Placing 40,000 troops under NATO command in the eastern part of the Alliance.
Backed by major air and naval power.
And doubling the number of battlegroups from four to eight. 

Now we need to ensure we have the right forces and capabilities for the longer-term.
So I expect Allies will agree new guidance for NATO defence planning.

This will be a key driver of capability changes.
And ensure credible deterrence and defence in the years to come.

Ministers will also focus on ways to increase our defence industrial capacity and replenish stockpiles.

The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of munitions, and depleting Allied stockpiles.

The current rate of Ukraine’s ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production.
This puts our defence industries under strain. 

For example, the waiting time for large-calibre ammunition has increased from 12 to 28 months.
Orders placed today would only be delivered two-and-a-half years later.

So we need to ramp up production.
And invest in our production capacity.

NATO has just completed an extraordinary survey of our munitions stockpiles.
And we plan to increase our targets for munitions stockpiles through the NATO Defence Planning Process.

The good news is that several Allies, including the United States and France, have already signed new multi-year contracts with the defence industry.

Enabling them to invest in increased production capacity.

I look forward to further progress.

This is essential to ensure we can keep supporting Ukraine, while protecting every inch of Allied territory.

The protection of critical   undersea infrastructure will also be high on our agenda.
NATO has been working on this for many years.
And we are now taking it to the next level.

We  have decided to establish a new coordination cell at NATO Headquarters, to map our vulnerabilities, and engage with industry.
This will support our efforts to prevent and counter threats to critical infrastructure, including undersea cables and pipelines.

And leaders at the Vilnius Summit will take further decisions to step up our efforts in this area.
We will also work closely with the European Union, through the NATO-EU task force on resilience and critical infrastructure.

NATO continues to adapt in all domains.
Including in space, which is becoming more crowded and competitive.

This week, I expect Allies will agree to establish a new virtual network of national and commercial satellites.

This will improve our intelligence and surveillance.
And support NATO missions and operations.

It will allow Allies to increase the sharing of space-based data with the NATO command structure.
Facilitating better navigation, communication and early warning of missile launches.

All of this work requires continued investment in our defence.
So Ministers will discuss ways to maintain and step up defence spending across the Alliance.
We are on the right track, with eight consecutive years of increases by European Allies and Canada.
And an additional $350 billion extra spent so far.

I expect that we will see further increases in defence spending this year.
But we need to keep up the momentum.

Our decisions this week will pave the way for our Summit in Vilnius in July.
And help keep our people safe in a more dangerous world.

With that, I am ready to take your questions.