Doorstep statement

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

  • 14 Feb. 2023 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 14 Feb. 2023 10:28

(As delivered)

Good morning.

The NATO Defence Ministers will meet at a critical time for our security.

Next week we mark the first year of the terrible war in Ukraine, the full-fledged invasion by Russia against Ukraine.

And we see no signs that President Putin is preparing for peace. What we see is the opposite, he is preparing for more war, for new offensives and new attacks.

So it makes it even more important that
NATO Allies and partners provide more support to Ukraine. And we will meet later on today in the US-led Contact Group for Ukraine and address the urgent needs for increased support to Ukraine.

Not least the need to provide more ammunition and also how to ramp up production and strengthen our defence industry to be able to provide the necessary ammunition to Ukraine and also to replenish our own stocks. 

We will also, at the Defence Ministerial Meeting, agree new long term guidelines for our defence planning to further strengthen our deterrence and defence. Something which is extremely important in a world which is more competitive and more dangerous. And when there is a full-fledged war going on in Europe

Allies will also start to discuss the new defence investment pledge. How to ensure we continue to invest more in defence.

And also address the protection of critical infrastructure, in particular undersea infrastructure off-shore infrastructure, because we have seen that these undersea cables, pipelines are vulnerable and its important that we coordinate more our efforts to protect the critical infrastructure.

We are all horrified by the terrible toll caused by the earthquakes in Türkiye.
NATO Allies are providing substantial support to Türkiye.
This support needs to continue and we need to stand in solidarity and sustain our support to Türkiye.

Then, I'm ready to take your questions.

Lorne Cook, Associated Press:
Lorne Cook, from Associated Press. Over the last year, NATO has gone from providing non-lethal assistance from Allies to providing artillery, to tanks. Now we're talking about jet aircraft. The Ukraine contact group is meeting in NATO headquarters. Why should the public believe that NATO is not at war with Russia?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
Neither NATO nor NATO Allies are party to the conflict. What we do as NATO Allies and NATO, is to provide support to Ukraine. Ukraine is defending itself, we need to understand what this is. This is a war of aggression. President Putin, Russia, has attacked a sovereign independent democratic free nation in Europe, Ukraine. And of course, Ukraine has the right to defend itself. The right of self-defence is enshrined in the UN Charter, it is a part of international law. And of course, we have the right to help Ukraine uphold the right for self-defence. So NATO and NATO Allies are not party to the conflict, but we support Ukraine in the right of self-defence. 

Then, of course, the type of support we provide to Ukraine has evolved as the war has evolved. In the beginning, it was extremely important to provide light anti-tank weapons like the javelins. Then we saw the need for artillery and NATO Allies provided more and more advanced artillery systems. Then, it became obvious that it was an urgent need for also more advanced air-defence systems. And NATO Allies are now providing PATRIOTS, SAMP/T, and other advanced air-defence systems, NASAMS. 

And now, over the last weeks and months, Allies have agreed to further step up significantly when it comes to heavy weaponry, armour, infantry fighting vehicles, but also main battle tanks. So yes, the type of support has evolved and that's part of the ongoing consultations among Allies within NATO, within the Ukraine support group and, and it will continue. Because we need to ensure that Ukraine gets the weapons it needs to be able to retake territory, liberate the lands and win this war and prevail as a sovereign independent nation. 

Let me just add a few more things on the issue of weapons. One is that it is important to discuss systems, what types of platforms we should provide to Ukraine, and it has evolved. But it's also extremely important to ensure that all the systems that are already delivered work as they should. So meaning, that for instance, when it comes to artillery, we need ammunition, we need spare parts, we need maintenance, we need all the logistics to ensure that we are able to sustain these weapon systems. 

So it's not only about discussing new systems, but ensuring that all the existing systems are working as they should. This has become a grinding war of attrition. And therefore, it's also a battle of logistics. And this is a huge efforts by Allies to actually be able to get in the ammunition to fuel the spare parts, which are needed. 

The other thing I will say is that the war didn't start in February last year. The war started in 2014. And since 2014, NATO Allies have provided support to Ukraine, with training, with equipment, so the Ukrainian Armed Forces were much stronger in 2022, than they were in 2020, and 2014. And of course, that made a huge difference when President Putin decided to attack Ukraine.

Florian Neuhann, ZDF:
A question on the fighter jets. After the EU Council last week, the Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki said that from his perspective, it would need a unanimous decision by NATO, whether in principle fighter jets could be delivered, are you preparing any kind of decision like this? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
The urgent need now is to deliver what has always been promised, to deliver the armoured vehicles, the infantry fighting vehicles, the German Marders, the US Bradleys, and of course, also, the main battle tanks, the Leopards, and the other battle tanks that have been pledged. And we see that Allies are stepping up. We need the training, we need the equipment, we need the ammunition and that's exactly what Allies are now providing and will be a top issue at the meetings today here at NATO.

And also to ensure that we have the ammunition and all the other things we need to all the other systems which are already delivered. So the issue of aircraft is not the most urgent issue now. But it is an ongoing discussion. And as I've said before, we have ongoing consultations among Allies on the type of systems Allies should deliver to Ukraine. And that will continue and we have evolved. The type of support we have, we are providing to Ukraine, has changed and evolved over time. And it will continue to change and evolve as this war develops.

Tamara Nutsubidze, Rustavi TV: 
Secretary General, you yesterday mentioned already that ministers also will discuss how to improve support, practical support to partner countries as Georgia, Moldova, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Should we expect some decisions today and how also is going implementation and process regarding tailored made package for Georgia?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
I think that one of the lessons we have learned already from the war in Ukraine is the importance of providing support to partners sooner than later, as it was important to support Ukraine, before the invasion, it is also important to support other partners, which are vulnerable for Russian interventions.

And therefore, Allies have agreed to step up our partnership, stay in partnership with partners like for instance, Georgia, and we are now working on how to step up support related to cyber, crisis management and secure communication. So yes, tailored partnership, tailored support is part of what we do with partners like Georgia.

Toni Viljanmaa, Lännen Media Finland: 
If Türkiye wants to ratify Finland before Sweden, would that be acceptable for NATO? And what would be the consequences?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
So first of all, I think we need to understand the historic dimension of what NATO Allies have already decided. We're all Allies, made an historic decision at the NATO Summit in July last year to invite Finland and Sweden to become full members of the Alliance. Then all Allies, all 30 Allies signed the Accession Protocol, protocols of Finland and Sweden. And so far 28 out of 30 Allies have already ratified. So this has been the quickest ratification or accession process in NATO's modern history, and as invitees, which is now the status that Finland and Sweden have as invited members, Finland and Sweden are more and more integrating into NATO's military and civilian structures.
Finland and Sweden sit at the NATO table, participate in our meetings and in our consultations. So, Finland and Sweden are in a very different place now than before they applied, and they are in a much better place. They have bilateral security assurances from many Allies, they are integrating into NATO and NATO has increased its presence in the region. 

So already both Finland and Sweden are much closer and much more integrated into NATO. So the main question is not whether Finland and Sweden are ratified together. The main question is that they are both ratified as full members as soon as possible. And I'm confident that both will be full members, and are working hard to get both ratified as soon as possible.

Oleh Pavliuk, European Pravda:
Secretary General, we understand that sending fighter jets to Ukraine is a long-term investment but the first steps could already be taken. For example, The United Kingdom has already started training, had already launched a training program for Ukrainian pilots. So do you think that NATO can collectively take that first step and agree training Ukrainian pilots today?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
You're right that some Allies, United Kingdom, has started training of pilots and Allies are now consulting and there is a conversation ongoing between Allies on also the issue of aircraft delivery to Ukraine. But as I said, our top priority or the urgent need now is to ensure the heavy weaponry, the modern air defence systems, the ammunition, all the other things we need to ensure that Ukraine gets the advanced and modern systems, which are already been pledged and that can really make a difference on the battlefield. Thank you.