Pre-ministerial press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

  • 14 Jun. 2023 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 15 Jun. 2023 11:27

(As delivered)

Good afternoon.

NATO Defence Ministers will meet this week to prepare our Summit in Vilnius next month.

We meet as Ukraine is conducting a major counter-offensive.

It is still early days.
And we do not know if this will be a turning point of the war.

But we see that the Ukrainians are making advances and liberating more land.

We know that the more gains Ukraine makes, the stronger their hand will be at the negotiating table.

The more gains Ukraine makes, the more likely it will be that President Putin realises he cannot win on the battlefield, but has to negotiate a just peace.

The progress we see is a testament to the courage and commitment of the Ukrainian forces.
It also demonstrates that the support provided by NATO Allies is making a real difference on the battlefield as we speak.

We will start our ministerial with a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission,
which will be preceded by the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, led by the United States.

Together with Defence Minister Reznikov, we will address developments on the ground.
And how to sustain our support.

We will discuss a multi-year package of support, with substantial funding.

To ensure Ukraine can defend itself for the longer-term.
To transition from Soviet-era to NATO standards,
and achieve full interoperability with NATO.
And to reform and rebuild its security and defence sector.

We must ensure that, when this war ends, there are credible arrangements in place for Ukraine’s security.
So that history does not repeat itself.
And so that Russia cannot rest, rearm and relaunch a fresh attack. 

At the Vilnius Summit, we will send a strong message of support and solidarity with Ukraine.
And make clear that Ukraine’s future is in NATO.

This week, Ministers will also address how to further strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence.

With new regional plans to defend Allied territory,
With forces and capabilities,
and high levels of readiness.

The regional plans require a new NATO force structure.
This will provide well over 300,000 troops at high readiness.
Backed by substantial air and naval power.

We will also adapt our command and control arrangements.
So that we can exercise the new regional plans.
And put them into practice if necessary.

I also expect ministers will agree to establish a new NATO Maritime Centre for the Security of Critical Undersea Infrastructure within our Maritime Command in the United Kingdom.

The Centre will increase our situational awareness and enhance maritime presence for deterrence and defence.

We are not starting from scratch.
All of this work builds on the biggest adaptation of our collective defence in a generation.

We started almost a decade ago,
in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. 
And we must continue to adapt at pace.

At the ministerial, we will continue our long-standing engagement with the transatlantic defence industry.
We have invited small, medium and large defence producers from across the Alliance to an informal event.

This will enable Defence Ministers to discuss directly with industry how best to ramp up production,
secure our supply chains,
and remove barriers to cooperation.

Ukraine and the European Union will also take part in the event.

I expect that Defence Ministers will review a new Defence Production Action Plan, which learders will agree at the Summit in Vilnius.
It aims to rapidly address shortfalls in our stocks.
Building on 1 billion dollars in joint procurement just for 155-millimeter ammunition now underway this year.
By our NATO Support and Procurement Agency, NSPA.

The Plan also aims to enhance the interoperability of our ammunition and equipment.
And support the transatlantic defence and industrial base.

We have also completed an exceptional review of national capability targets for battle-decisive munitions.

As a result, I expect ministers on Friday will decide to increase these targets substantially.

This will strengthen both our ability to defend ourselves, and to support Ukraine.
And it will send a clear signal to industry to boost production.

We will also address a renewed Defence Investment Pledge for the Vilnius Summit.

This should make clear that investing 2% of GDP on defence is not a ceiling to reach, but a floor we must build on.

Finally, we will hold a meeting of the Nuclear Planning Group.

We continue to see reckless nuclear rhetoric from Russia.
And just over the past few months, Moscow has suspended participation in the New START Treaty.
And has decided to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Ministers will discuss the nuclear aspects of the current security environment.
And consider the ongoing adaptation of NATO’s nuclear deterrence.

With that, I am ready for your questions.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: We’ll start with Bloomberg.

Natalia Drozdiak (BLOOMBERG): Natalia Drozdiak, thank you for the question. Are you confident that allies will agree to wording on Ukraine's membership by Vilnius that goes beyond the 2008 statement?

NATO Secretary General: There are consultations going on now and I think I will make those consultations more difficult if I go into the different elements or preempt the conclusions, but what I can say is that allies actually agree on a lot when it comes to Ukraine's membership in NATO.

First of all, we agree that NATO store is open and that has been demonstrated by the fact that we just lost at the last Summit invited both Finland and Sweden to become full members.

We also agreed that Ukraine will become a member of the Alliance. That has been stated again and again by NATO Allies.

And thirdly, we all agreed that it is for Ukraine and the NATO Allies to decide when the time is right for Ukraine to become a member of the Alliance. But perhaps most importantly, we agree that the most urgent task now is to ensure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign independent nation because unless Ukraine prevails and can continue as a democratic state in Europe, there is no membership issue to be discussed at all.

And then also expect that Allies will agree a multi-year program where we help to move Ukraine to transition from old standards, equipment, procedures, doctrines to NATO standards and become fully interoperable with NATO. And by doing that, of course, we are bringing Ukraine closer to NATO. So consultations are ongoing and I'm confident that we will find a good solution at the Summit. And the starting point is actually that Allies agree on a lot when it comes to membership.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: Here in front.

Dmytro Shkurko (News Agency Ukraine): Thank you for the floor. It's known that member states have different positions on guarantees or insurances of security for Ukraine for the future.
Will that question we discussed during the Ministerial, this time with Minister Reznikov. And what options are on the table if it’s possible. And a second follow up question, quite technical, if I may. There was said that NATO is going to upgrade the status of NATO-Ukraine Commission to the range of Council. What is the difference and could you please specify if NRC is still existing? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: Well, there is a big difference between a Commission and a Council when it comes to NATO and NATO structures. Because a Commission, that's the Allies meeting one partner. So in the NATO-Ukraine Commission, we meet 31 Allies with Ukraine. We don't make decisions, we don't have structures. It's a platform to consult with a partner. If Allies agreed to establish a NATO Council - that actually means that we will then we'll be 32 equals. It will be the 31 Allies and Ukraine sitting around the same table at equal terms. And it will be also a body that can make decisions and we can also have deeper structures under subcommittees and so on. So that's the structure for much deeper cooperation for actually making decisions together, if all members of the Council agree and it will reflect a very strong strengthening of the political partnership. A relationship between Ukraine and the NATO Allies and it’ll be on equal levels.

Then, of course, with ministers in the room, I expect that we will discuss both, urgent needs and more long term challenges for Ukraine. The urgent need, the most obvious need is of course, to ensure that they have the weapons and ammunition, the supplies, the maintenance to continue to conduct the offensive.

And as you all know, this is not only about deploying some battle tanks or some air defense systems, it's also to make sure that they can work, they can function, they have all the supplies of ammunition, fuel, spare parts, repair capacity as the offensive moves on. So that's an urgent thing that will be of course a main issue, both in the in the meeting with the NATO-Ukraine Commission but also in the Contact Group earlier the same day.

And I expect Allies to announce, to make new announcements of further support. I just came from Washington yesterday or this morning and they made a big new announcement in Washington for further support to Ukraine.

Then we will also discuss the more long term challenges. And that's part of the measures and the decisions that we're looking into, whether NATO can take and I mentioned this multi-year program. When NATO agree to launch a multi-year program with Ukraine to help to move towards NATO interoperability, standards, doctrines, all the reform of the security and defense institutions. Ukraine has come a long way just by the fact that they're working so closely with NATO Allies today. But if you look at the battlefield, there's still a lot of Russian and old-Soviet era equipment and we need to fulfill or to implement this big transition and that's a task of NATO, pointing towards a future where we have a much stronger Ukraine. Then there are also individual NATO Allies, which are discussing bilateral arrangements with Ukraine that will underpin this same goal, different types of security assurances, frameworks and also to ensure that Ukraine for a long term receives the weapons, the systems they need to defend themselves. And all of this is, of course, with a clear aim to prevent that when this war ends, that we do not only see that Russia rests, reconstitutes, reallocates and then again attacks Ukraine. So we need also to discuss these more long term efforts.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: ANSA in the third row.

Mattia Bagnoli (ANSA): Okay, thank you. Secretary General, the Ukrainian counter-offensive has officially started and you just gave us already a preliminary assessment. But can I ask you what the expectations are realistically amongst the Allies? In other words, that there is a shared view what success in this campaign is or are there different perspectives of NATO right now. And secondly, the reports saying that some of the equipment sent to Ukraine has been captured or destroyed, namely LEOPARDs and BRADLEYs. Is that causing some security concern, given the fact that the Russians now can inspect them and maybe reverse engineering some of our assets, thank you.

NATO Secretary General: So, we will get updates from Minister Reznikov and also from the generals, major commanders that will attend the meeting. And by sitting around the same table, getting the same updates, it helps to have a more common and better and deeper understanding of the situation on the battlefield. But then, of course, no one can today predict the developments on the battlefield. Wars are by nature unpredictable. So therefore, it's impossible for anyone to say exactly what will happen the next days or next weeks. What we already know is that Ukrainians have made advances we already know that they have demonstrated their professionalism and dedication, which is impressive. They are delivering above expectations, and they've done that throughout the war. Also liberating land in North of Kyiv, in the East of Kyiv and in the South around Kherson already.

Then of course, when you launch such a big offensive, also against static well prepared defence lines including with minefields and the tank ditches and these dragon teeth and many other static defence lines. Of course, there will be casualties. Also, when it comes to modern NATO equipment, so there was no plan in a way, no one expected there will be zero casualties. The reality is that this is a fierce fierce fighting going on and of course also with casualties also on the Ukrainian side. But the Ukrainians are making gains and they have proven extremely professional in the way to conduct this offensive and also in handling the equipment they have got, they have received from NATO Allies.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: SVT.

David Boati (SVT): David Boati from SVT. Secretary General, as we speak, there is a meeting going on in Ankara between Finland, Türkiye, Sweden and NATO. And meanwhile, Turkish media now reports that Erdogan supposedly has said that we shouldn't expect any shift in the in the Turkish view on the Swedish NATO admission as long as there's still as he says terrorists demonstrating in the streets of Stockholm. How do you see this, your reaction?

NATO Secretary General: Well, I met President Erdogan in Istanbul a couple of weeks ago. We spent some time together and of course he also addressed the issue of Swedish membership and we agreed then in that meeting, to convene the meeting of this Permanent Joint Mechanism with Finland, Sweden, Türkiye, and also NATO present. And my Chief of Staff is at the meeting. I just spoke to him and he could report that the meeting took place in a constructive atmosphere.

Some progress have been made and we will continue to work for the ratification of Sweden as soon as possible. Of course, I'm not in a position to give you any exact timeline or guarantees but there is a process. It's a good thing that they met today and I also made it clear many times also in Ankara or Istanbul last time I met President Erdogan that Sweden has delivered. They have changed the Constitution, they have strengthened the counter terrorist laws and lifted restrictions on exports of arms to Türkiye and I welcome the fact that Sweden sits down with Türkiye and look into how can we ensure that actually more is delivered based on what is already agreed.

So for instance, this week, the new announcement over the extradition of a person related to the PKK. And again, this is good for the fight against terrorism, but also good for Sweden's efforts to fight organized crime in Sweden because these groups are very often linked and the same people conducting organized crime in in Sweden that are responsible for terrorist actions in Türkiye. So we will continue to work and we all will welcome Sweden as a full member as soon as possible.

David Boati (SVT): [supplementary question regarding Vilnius Summit; inaudible].

NATO Secretary General: It's still possible. I cannot guarantee it of course but it's possible to have an agreement in place by the Summit and I'm still working for that to happen.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Thomas Gutschker (FAZ): Thanks a lot. Thomas Gutschker, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Secretary General, two questions related to Ukraine. Please first can you confirm that Allies have actually taken the decision in principle to establish the NATO-Ukraine Commission? So the upgrade has already been decided in the North Atlantic Council. And the second question: when it comes to security guarantees so far, delivering weapons and other support to Ukraine has not deterred Russia from continuing its war. What would substantially be different? Or would would have to be substantially different to assure that in the future after the end of current hostilities? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: Well we are working on decisions to be taken up that Summit. And we are preparing the Summit and one of the issues which are then now addressed, discussed among Allies is the issue of strengthening our political cooperation with Ukraine by establishing a NATO-Ukraine Council, but I will not go into details or announce anything today, but I believe personally that this is a good way forward to do more with Ukraine and to work more closely with them.

Then, well, I think what you have to understand that when the war ends, it is extremely important to maximize the likelihood for that this is really an end to the war. Because what we have seen is Russian pattern of aggression against neighbors, in Georgia in 2008, but then against the Ukraine first annexing Crimea and then a few months later, taking control over Eastern Donbass and then a full fledge invasion. And we see what President Putin has stated again and again. He doesn't believe in the idea of an independent sovereign Ukraine. He doesn’t believe that Ukraine is a nation. So of course, if this is some kind of pause to the war, and if that only enables the Russians to reconstitute and to rearm and then to attack again and then there is no real peace.

So to minimize the likelihood for that to happen again, we need to ensure that Ukraine has the capabilities, the weapons, the systems, the training, the command or control, the NATO standards that enables them to deter against any attack themselves, and also, of course, to defend if there is another attack. We're also discussing how we can strengthen the relationship with NATO. I mentioned the multi-year plan to help them to move in that direction. And we are discussing also to strengthen political cooperation and then individual Allies are discussing different types of security arrangements and this will underpin and complement what NATO does. The aim of all this, all these different efforts is to ensure that Russia is not able to attack again.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: Antena 3.

Guillermo Pascual (Antena 3): Yeah, good afternoon Secretary General. I have a question about the reception tomorrow with the defence industry. In that meeting tomorrow there will be no presence of a Spanish company. I would like to know why. And also if you are worried about that an Ally like Spain could criticize the selection process and also criticize the way you manage. Thanks.

NATO Secretary General: Well, I think this is an event where we will meet the defense industry - small companies, medium sized and the big companies. And it's a relatively small selected group and of course, several Allies are not represented there. That's the way these events have to be because that's quite small. And we also want also small companies, small firms to be there together with the big ones. So there are several NATO Allies who are not present at that event, but that's possible. Also because this is not the only way we engage with the defence industry. We have many different platforms where we engage with the defence industry. I engage myself, also met defense industry from several those countries who are not participating in the event tomorrow. And we have the NATO-Industry Forum where companies from all Allies participate and many times several of them from the same Ally. And then we are constantly expanding and looking into how we can further engage with the defence industry. So this is one of several events and several Allies are also not represented with the defence industry.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu: We go to the lady in yellow. Here.

Olena Kurenkova, Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine: Thank you, Olena Kurenkova, Ukrainian public broadcaster. Secretary General two brief questions. First of all, I'd like to ask about the question that is maybe the most worrying for Ukrainian side. Ukrainian side expects some decisions on their fighter jet supplies, western-style fighter jet supplies to Ukraine. Do you see that some progress has been done in these discussions since the last meeting in such format? And do you expect some great changes this time? And also, it's very relevant for us to understand that in context of the counter offensive that Ukraine has been conducting right now.
And the second question: you have just returned from your meeting with President Biden in the United States. You may perhaps discussed some guarantee issues, security guarantees for Ukraine. Can you name some concrete things that you have discussed in this context? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: So prior to jets first, NATO Allies have delivered fighter jets, but they have not delivered fifth generation fighter jets, modern F-16s and that type of fighter jets – but things have been delivered, but that is more older types. Allies have also delivered a lot of other capabilities that can help to control the airspace: drones with advanced air defense systems, but also long-range fires and especially long-range cruise missiles that the United Kingdom has delivered, and which are making a difference on the battlefield and which has been used as part of the offensives.

I say this because, yes, planes have been delivered, a lot of other capabilities that help you to control the airspace has been delivered but not fourth generation fighter aircraft. But there, there is a decision, as you know, by several Allies, and I welcome that decision, it happened after consultations, that training will start. Of course, when training starts and Allies are also have declared that training may start soon, this summer. And I also expect that training for the pilots will be one issue that will be addressed also tomorrow at the meeting of the Contact Group. Then that provides us with the option also to deliver planes. Exactly when and how that will happen, no decision has been made but the training is the first step and it is important.

Then the other question was, well, in the meeting with President Biden, of course, we discussed Ukraine. Both the urgent needs to continue to deliver unprecedented level of support, and I welcome the U.S. announcement yesterday for more advanced air defense systems, ammunition, artillery and many other types of support they announced yesterday and this comes on top of announcement by European Allies just over the last days from Denmark, from the Netherlands, from Germany and other Allies, which also have made recent announcements to step up.

Then, we also discussed, of course, the more long-term aspects and in one we already addressed them, it is about the framework, it is about the long-term commitments, it is about interoperability, the transition and NATO will play a role together with the support and the commitment by individual NATO Allies.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu: Ok. Reuters.

Sabine Siebold, Reuters: Thank you. Sabine Siebold with Reuters. Secretary General you just announced the defense production action plan to address shortfalls in NATO stocks. What do you see as the biggest gaps at the moment? Is it artillery, ammunition or is it air defenses? Maybe you can work out on that little bit. And you also said you are aiming to enhance the interoperability of ammunitions and equipment in the Alliance. What role does standardization play or lack of standardization in this respect, and what role will the meeting with the industry bosses tomorrow play there?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Since last fall, it was obvious that the war in Ukraine was going to be a war of attrition and a war that was actually going to last for quite a long time. And then we started to focus on the need to ramp up production because so far, NATO Allies have provided substantial, significant support to Ukraine but most of that support has been provided by depleting our own stocks of different types of ammunition, and not least 155 [mm], the standard and NATO ammunition but also for instance, ammunition for air defense systems, NASAMs, patriots and other systems. It became obvious many months ago that they cannot continue like that because our stocks were running lower and lower, and that makes it hard both to continue to provide support Ukraine, but also to have enough in stock to ensure that we have the necessary to uphold our own collective defence.

Therefore, since last fall, we have been working on how to ramp up production and we have engaged closely with the defense industry in many different countries. More and more Allies now are signing contracts because what the industry need is not only signals and political messages, they need actually contracts. And I'm glad to see that more and more contracts are signed. Then, what we have done from the NATO side, is also to ensure that we buy more of these systems, weapons together and we have ongoing joint procurement projects in NATO for 155, just for 155, of 1 billion U.S. dollars, as we speak, and that's Allies that have gone together and buy the 155 ammunition together to the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) -  by doing that joint procurement, you can have bigger scale and reduce the price in the market. So this is tried and tested structures in NATO which we are now ramping up and scaling up to be able to provide continuous support to Ukraine.

Then we will, on Friday, agree new capability targets for, or expect that ministers on Friday, will agree new capability targets for a battle decisive ammunition, which is, perhaps, one of the most important shortfalls and then again this is something that NATO has done for a decade but what we saw was that the existing capability targets which we have for each and every Ally, specific numbers, they were too low. So now we have an extraordinary round. We have consulted Allies and they have agreed, or the will hopefully agree on Friday, to then lift this target substantially and that will also then give the nations the guidelines they need to sign contracts with industry and then have long-term delivery of battle-decisive ammunition.

Standardization, a core responsibility for NATO: we have always worked hard on that, but since ammunition, weapons are constantly developed, refined, that sometimes undermined their interoperability. So there, we need to actually do more, and part of what we call the NATO 2030, to also strengthen the NATO structures, is actually to have more people, more experts to work on the urgent need to standardize and to ensure full interchangeability and standardization of the NATO weapons and all these elements are, and many others are also in the action plan for the transatlantic defence industry.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu: Ok. Politico.

Lili Bayern, Politico: Thank you very much, Lili from Politico. Just to follow up on that theme. Is it accurate that Türkiye is currently blocking agreement on both the regional plans and the defence industry action plan? And if so, what is the way forward? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: First of all, I never confirm what is going on in internal processes in NATO. Before every meeting, before every Summit, there are a lot of documents that has to be negotiated and it always takes some time and it always takes a bit more time that we would like but I've been used to that because we end up with good documents and good agreements.

So first of all, I will not confirm which Allies do this or have this position in different processes, but I am absolutely confident that that when we meet in Vilnius, we will have substantial agreement on these things and move forward as we have done, especially since 2014 with the biggest adaptation with all the decisions on the battlegroups, on the higher readiness, on the strengthening of our command structure, which has been strengthened significantly over these years. There have always been differences and therefore it has taken some time to negotiate, but NATO is the most successful, the strongest Ally in history, because we have always been able to adapt and change when the world is changing. Now the world is changing and we are able to agree on that adaptation. That also will happen in Vilnius.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu: Ok. We will go to Radio Free Europe.

Radio Free Europe: Denis Dermenji for Radio Free Europe. Secretary General on 1st June during the European Political Community Summit, NATO AWACS systems secured Moldova's airspace because the country is unable. Moldova is a close and long-standing partner to NATO but during Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Russian missiles repeatedly flown through the Moldovan sky, some even falling. Can NATO, the Allies help Moldova acquire a modern air defense system considering that, considering requests from Moldovan leaders late last year and what options have NATO for such countries?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Well, first of all, I am glad that NATO was also able to help to secure the airspace of Moldova and that important meeting with our AWACS surveillance planes which actually play a very important role to get the full air picture and also to coordinate efforts of different NATO Allies and air forces.

Second, Moldova is a partner of NATO and we have agreed that we should step up our partnership of what we do together and of course, we will look into also how we can help you to reform and to strengthen your own defence and security institutions, and also, of course, part of that can also be related to protecting your airspace. So this is something we will constantly assess and sit down and discuss what type of support that we can provide.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu: Okay, we have the gentleman over here. Second, third row.

Zhi Zheng, China Radio International Media Group: Zhi Zheng, China Media Group. Mr. Secretary General, multiple media sources indicate that NATO Allies are currently divided over the plan to set up a Liaison Office in Japan. Can you please provide more information on that? NATO consistently emphasizes its role as a defensive regional Alliance but does not seek geographic expansion. Does NATO’s potential presence in Asia indicate a shift in its core defence nature? My last question, if I may, what we have observed here in Europe is that the ongoing enlargements of NATO does not guarantee stability on the continent. So how can you ensure a similar outcome will be avoided in Asia if NATO goes to the continent? Thank you very much.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: We need to understand that NATO is an Alliance of North America and Europe, and NATO will remain an Alliance on North America and Europe. It is not an issue at all to make NATO, a global organization with members from, for instance, Asia, no one has, has been in favor of that. That is not an issue at all. But this region, North America and Europe, we face global threats and challenges, everything from cyber to terrorism, but also, of course, the security consequences of the rise of China, where China is investing heavily in new modern military capabilities. We see that threatening neighbors and we see also China's coming closer to us.

That is the reason why we, in our Strategic Concept, state clearly that China is a challenge to our values, to our security, and to our interests. And also why we have decided to further strengthen our partnership with our Indo-Pacific partners: Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia. I invited the leaders of these countries to come to Vilnius and we appreciate very much to strengthen the partnership with them. NATO is the defensive Alliance. NATO will remain the Alliance of North America and Europe, but as a defensive Alliance we see strong value in strengthening the partnership with our Indo-Pacific partners.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu: Associated Press up there. Yes. Up there.

Lorne Cook, Associated Press: Lorne Cook, from the Associated Press. You mentioned on Friday, Secretary General, the meeting of the the Nuclear Planning Group. I understand the Nuclear Planning Group, kind of, meets regularly that we normally expect those meetings. This one seems to be in response to something else, and it was difficult to talk about it but is there a little more that you could tell us about your concerns and why this extraordinary meeting?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Well, as you said, we meet on a regular basis to ensure that our nuclear deterrent remain safe, secure and effective, and that is an ongoing process in NATO. At the same time, what of course, we have seen is the reckless and dangerous rhetoric from Russia on the potential use of nuclear weapons.

And we have also seen the fact that Russia has destroyed the nuclear arms control architecture that we developed over decades, since the Cold War and up to now. Not so many years ago, a few years ago, the INF Treaty that banned all intermediate range weapons didn't function anymore because Russia violated it and deployed missiles that violated the treaty. So now this treaty has stopped to function, has… it is not no longer valid.

Then, Russia announced some weeks ago that they are suspending the new START agreement, which is the agreement that bans, or put limits on all the long-range nuclear missiles and then they announced that they will deploy short-range missiles to Belarus. I condemn these decisions and they are taking us in the wrong direction. NATO believes in arms control. We believe that it is important to have limits, relations and not least also transparency but Russia is walking away from the different agreements we have developed over many years.

So therefore, we of course, are vigilant. We follow closely what Russia is doing. We are monitoring what they do. And we are also conveying very closely to them that the nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought, as we monitor what they do, we of course, so far, then we also assess what we should do, but so far we haven't seen any changes in their posture that requires any changes in our nuclear posture.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu: Thank you very much. That is all we have time for today, colleagues, but there will be opportunities for more questions during the ministerial. So we'll see you there. Thank you.