Press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv

  • 20 Apr. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 21 Apr. 2023 09:00

(As delivered)

President Zelenskyy,
Dear Volodymyr,

Thank you for hosting me today.
It is really a great honour to be back in Kyiv and to meet with you.

Your personal leadership, the courage of your armed forces, and the resilience of the Ukrainian people have inspired us all.

More than a year on from the invasion, Russia’s war of aggression continues to cause untold human suffering.  
With brutal attacks on homes and hospitals, playgrounds and power stations.

This morning I visited Bucha and I was deeply moved by what I saw there.

Russian atrocities continue against the Ukrainian people today. 
And those responsible must be held to account.

I also laid a wreath at The Wall of Remembrance of the Fallen for Ukraine.
I pay tribute to all those who have lost their lives, or suffered wounds, seen or unseen, in defence of their homeland.

They will not be forgotten.

Mister President, I am here today with a simple message:
NATO stands with Ukraine.

We stood by you after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.

We stand by you today, in your heroic fight against the Russian invaders and in defence of your country.

And we will stand by you tomorrow, as you rebuild, and work toward a brighter future for the Ukrainian people.

Over the years, NATO Allies have provided training for tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers.
And since last February, NATO Allies have delivered more than 150 billion euros of support, including 65 billion euros of military aid.
This has enabled your troops to force Russia out of Kyiv, Kherson and Kharkiv.

Allies are now delivering more jets, tanks, and armoured vehicles.
And NATO's Ukraine fund is providing urgent support, including medical supplies, mobile satellite systems, and pontoon bridges.
All of this is making a real difference on the battlefield every day.

We do not know when this war will end.
But we know that Russian aggression is a toxic pattern that must be stopped.

We agreed on the importance of a just and sustainable peace.
And I strongly welcome President Zelenskyy’s peace plan.
We must continue strengthening Ukraine’s armed forces. 
And we must ensure that robust, powerful arrangements are in place for Ukraine’s security.

Let me be clear:
Ukraine’s rightful place is in the Euro-Atlantic family.
Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO.
And over time, our support will help you make this possible.

Today, the President and I discussed a multi-year support initiative.
This will help you to transition from Soviet-era equipment and doctrines to NATO standards.
And ensure full interoperability with the Alliance.

It is a testament to NATO’s long-term commitment to Ukraine.
NATO stands with you today, tomorrow and for as long as it takes.

So, President Zelenskyy, thank you again for hosting me here today. I look forward to welcome you to the NATO Summit in Vilnius in July.

Thank you colleagues. Questions. Interfax Ukraine, information agency.

Interfax Ukraine:
[inaudible] Interfax Ukraine. My question is regarding the Vilnius Summit to President Zelensky and to Secretary General Stoltenberg. What concrete steps from NATO will satisfy Ukraine? Will there be a roadmap or something else? This is to Mr. President. And question to Mr. Stoltenberg: Some of the NATO member states would rather not consider Ukraine's membership not to bring, not to, you know, bring ire from Russia. How this can be dealt with?

NATO Secretary General
The Vilnius Summit will be important for many reasons, but not least, because I expect that the NATO Allies will recommit to stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes. And announce and recommit to continue to provide a substantial military support enabling Ukraine to prevail as a sovereign independent nation. I also expect that NATO Allies, at the Vilnius Summit with the presence of President Zelensky, will agree to further strengthen NATO's package for Ukraine with even more support. Then, of course, I also recognize that President Zelensky will raise the issue of membership, of security guarantees, and this will be high on the agenda of the meeting. And also in the lead up of the preparations for the Vilnius Summit. Ukraine's future is in the Euro-Atlantic family. Ukraine's future is in NATO. All Allies agree on that. At the same time, the main focus of the Alliance, of NATO Allies now, is to ensure that Ukraine prevails. It is to ensure that Ukraine continues to be a sovereign, independent democratic nation in Europe. Because that is the only way to also have a meaningful discussion about Ukraine's future membership. And therefore, the main focus, the urgent need is the military support to Ukraine, which is something we work on every day. We will discuss it today, we will discuss it in Ramstein, where we meet in the US led Contact Group with for Ukraine tomorrow. And every day, in the lead up to the Vilnius Summit and also at the Vilnius Summit, military support for Ukraine will be a main topic. So NATO has demonstrated that our door is open. NATO's door remains open. And then, what we do, the support we provide to Ukraine is making future membership for Ukraine possible.

Moderator: Thank you, the last question from Bloomberg.

Bloomberg: Hi, Mr. President. You touched on the topic of the next coming meeting in Ramstein. Do you have any special detail to disclose to us right now? And my question goes to NATO Secretary General. Tomorrow you will be attending the meeting. What are your expectations of it? And what do you think NATO might present at the meeting?

NATO Secretary General  Jens Stoltenberg: At the meeting in Ramstein tomorrow, I expect that NATO Allies and partners will make new announcements of concrete military support to Ukraine and that of course will come on top of the unprecedented support which is already –which has all been delivered. And I expect the NATO Allies to do so both because it’s the morally right thing to do. A sovereign independent nation in Europe, Ukraine has been attacked, as a victim of a brutal war of aggression and therefore it's Ukraine's right to defend itself and it's our right to support Ukraine in upholding the right of self defense, a right which is enshrined in the UN Charter but it's also in our self-interest. Because if President Putin wins it will make the world more dangerous and us more vulnerable, because then the message is that when authoritarian powers, like Russia, like President Putin uses forces, they get what they want. So it's in our security interest, it's in the security interest of NATO Allies to support Ukraine. Then, today, we have had new announcements from Allies. Netherlands and Denmark are announcing 14 new Leopard battle tanks. And then the United States has announced a new package of 325 million extra US dollars, including more HIMARS and ammunition and missiles for HIMARS. So these are concrete announcements which we actually had today and I expect more to come because it's an urgent need to ensure that Ukraine gets the weapons they need. Then we need constant discussion on different types of platforms. And the support NATO Allies are providing to Ukraine has evolved as the war has evolved. The beginning, the main focus was on light anti-tank weapons like the Javelins, then it was a big focus on artillery, and then it was on air defence systems, including advanced air defence systems like the NASAMS and the Patriot batteries, and now on the battle tanks and now Allies are also providing battle tanks and actually Allies was providing fighter jets. We continue to discuss and assess what type of platforms but let me add one more thing and that is that in addition to discussing platforms where we need a new weapon type or not, it is extremely important to ensure that all the systems, all the weapons which are already in Ukraine work as they should, meaning that they need ammunition, enormous amounts of ammunition, they need spare parts, maintenance, repair capabilities, maintenance, so yes, we should discuss whether there’s a need for new platforms, but to just ensure that all the platforms which are there are working as they should is an enormous task and that will also be addressed when we meet in Ramstein tomorrow.