Joint press conference

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

  • 28 Sep. 2023 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 28 Sep. 2023 14:29

(As delivered)

President Zelenskyy,
My dear friend Volodymyr,
Thank you for your warm welcome.

And let me begin by paying tribute to your inspirational leadership,
The heroism of your armed forces.
And the dignity of the Ukrainian people.

It is an honour to be back in Kyiv.
Capital of the great nation of Ukraine.
And today, a city with a special place in the hearts of the free world.

When I was last here in April, we discussed our preparations for NATO’s Vilnius Summit.
And your preparations for the counteroffensive.

Today, your forces are moving forward.
They face fierce fighting.
But they are gradually gaining ground.
Every metre that Ukrainian forces regain is a metre that Russia loses. 

And there is a stark contrast.

Ukrainians are fighting for
Their families;
Their future;
Their freedom.

Moscow is fighting for imperial delusions.

Ukraine has strong backing from 31 NATO Allies and many partners.

In total, more than 50 nations support and supply you through the Ukraine Defence Contact Group.
And over one hundred and forty nations stood up for your sovereignty at the United Nations.

Meanwhile, Russia is diminished on the world stage.

Cut off from international markets.
Staying home from international summits.
And reduced to seeking arms from regimes like Iran and North Korea.

We just had an important discussion on the next steps for NATO’s support.

At our Vilnius Summit in July, all Allies agreed that Ukraine will join NATO.
And we took three historic decisions to turn this into reality.

First, we shortened your path to NATO from two to one step.
By removing the requirement for a Membership Action Plan.

Second, we agreed a programme to make Ukraine’s forces fully interoperable with your future Allies. 
Fully adopting NATO doctrine and equipment.
This is part of a major package of support, worth hundreds of millions of euros annually.
Third, we strengthened our political ties to an unprecedented level, by establishing the NATO-Ukraine Council.
A body where we can consult and take decisions together. 
The Council has already met for important consultations, including on Black Sea security, and will meet again soon.

These three decisions mean that Ukraine is now closer to NATO than ever before.

NATO Allies also continue to provide high-end capabilities to help you push back the invasion.
Just in the past few days and weeks, this has included Abrams tanks, sophisticated missile systems, and air defences, as well as training for F-16 pilots.

This is a collective effort by all NATO Allies.
With equal burden-sharing.
Of nearly one hundred billion euros in military support committed to Ukraine since the invasion, around half has come from the United States,
And the other half has come from European NATO Allies and Canada.

I also welcome your announcement that Ukraine and the United States plan to jointly produce weapons systems, including air defences.
And I look forward to further encouraging news from tomorrow’s International Defence Industry Forum here in Kyiv.

With participation from NATO and over 20 countries, it will be an important opportunity for Ukrainian companies to forge new partnerships with industry across the Alliance and beyond.

Because there is no defence without industry.

NATO has been conducting joint procurement for many years.
Today, I can confirm that NATO now has framework contracts in place for 2.4 billion euros worth of key ammunition.
Including 1 billion euros of firm orders.
This covers capabilities like 155-millimeter artillery, anti-tank guided missiles, and main battle tank ammunition.

This will help Allies to refill their stocks.
While continuing to support Ukraine.

The stronger Ukraine becomes, the closer we come to ending Russia’s aggression.

Russia could lay down arms and end its war today.
Ukraine does not have that option.
Ukraine’s surrender would not mean peace.
It would mean brutal Russian occupation.
Peace at any price would be no peace at all.

Ukraine needs a just and sustainable peace.
And I therefore strongly welcome President Zelenskyy’s ten-point plan to achieve that goal.  

So Mister President,
Ukraine’s future is in NATO.
As we work together to prepare you for that future, NATO will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.
Thank you.


Moderator: [speaks Ukrainian]

Question: [speaks in Ukrainian]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy: [answers in Ukrainian]

Question: [speaks in Ukrainian]

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: NATO has strongly condemned Russia's brutal war of aggression against Ukraine. It inflicts heavy losses, costs on Ukraine in loss of lives and material damage. But it also of course, represents a huge risk to all NATO Allies. Therefore, we have, since the beginning of the war, actually before the invasion, provided substantial support to Ukraine and stepped it up since the full scale invasion last year. I am constantly urging Allies to do even more to speed up delivery, to ensure not least air defences, and also to work on how to ramp up production so we can continue to provide support to Ukraine.

Then regarding the debris from drones in Romania, we don't have any indication that this is a result of any intentional attack by Russia against Allied territory. But Russia's war and reckless strikes close to the Romanian borders are reckless and are destabilising. There should be no doubt that NATO is there to defend all Allies. We have therefore significantly stepped up our military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance, including in Romania with more troops, with more air policing, with more surveillance and also with different capabilities. That has enabled us to closely monitor the situation along NATO's borders. And the recent deployment of [an] additional six or several F-16 fighter jets, as part of NATO's air policing by the United States in Romania just adds to our presence in Romania, as a result of the destabilising and reckless interactions of [Russia] close to NATO borders.

Moderator: [speaks in Ukrainian]

James Waterhouse (BBC News): James Waterhouse, BBC News. Let me ask you directly about munitions. Could you expand on what you’ve just announced? Because you have Russia able to replenish stocks at a far greater rate than Ukraine. Is there a danger of complacency from the West? Can you expand on what the Alliance is going to provide longer term as Ukraine tries to protect its skies, sustain its counteroffensive? And of course Russia is going to look to replenish as well in these winter months. And Mr. President, can I ask you about Admiral Sokolov. After last week's attack on Sevastopol your secret services said he was killed, one of 34 officers. The Kremlin is trying to assert that is not the case through this unverified footage. And now your secret services are saying ‘we are trying to clarify’. Can you say definitively whether he is dead or alive?

NATO Secretary General: First of all, we have significantly stepped up our support. But more than that, we have also engaged and worked with the defence industry across the Alliance now for a long time. Because it was clear already last summer that it was not sufficient only to deplete our own stocks. In the beginning NATO and NATO Allies depleted stocks to provide support Ukraine. But then it was clear that we needed to do more and that's the reason why we started to engage with NATO's defence industry already last summer. Then I met with Minister Kuleba, I met with Josep Borrell at the NATO Headquarters this spring, and we agreed also to step up the cooperation between Ukraine, the European Union and NATO, to ramp up production. And we had a meeting in June with NATO defence industry but also Ukrainian defence industry and Ukraine on the margins of the NATO defence ministerial meeting. We will develop further how we can work together to increase our own production in NATO countries but also to ramp up production inside Ukraine. And therefore I also welcome the defence industry conference that is going to take place here in Kyiv tomorrow, which is yet another step on how to mobilise more industrial capacity to produce the ammunition, the weapons, the air defences we need. And I welcome of course the announcement by the United States and President Biden and President Zelenskyy to do the same bilaterally between the United States and Ukraine.

And then we will have the NATO Industry Forum in Stockholm next [month]. Again, the main focus will be on how to invest more. And I will keep on pushing Allies to sign firm orders because what the industry needs is signed contracts because then they can invest, then they can produce, and then we can increase production even more. We had a meeting recently at NATO. It is now clear that we have what we call framework contracts, standards contracts, for 2.5 billion for key ammunition out of which 1 billion is already firm signed contracts. So yes, rest assured we will produce, we will deliver ammunition, weapons, because this is about solidarity with Ukraine. It would be a tragedy for Ukrainians if Russia wins but it will also be extremely dangerous for us. So it is in our security interest to ensure that we provide Ukraine with the support they need to win this war.

President Zelenskyy: [speaks in Ukrainian]

Moderator: [speaks in Ukrainian]