Doorstep statement

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy ahead of the meetings of NATO Ministers of Defence in Brussels

  • 11 Oct. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 11 Oct. 2023 12:03

(As delivered)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:

President Zelenskyy, dear Volodymyr,

It is a great honour and privilege to welcome you back here to the NATO Headquarters.

And to return the warm welcome you gave me when I visited Kyiv just a couple of weeks ago.

Your leadership, the bravery of the Ukrainian armed forces, the resolve of the Ukrainian people continue to impress and inspire all of us. And as you know, we will stand by you, provide support to Ukraine, because this is really important for the whole of NATO.

NATO Defence Ministers will meet today and tomorrow.

We will of course address Ukraine. We will meet in the US-led Ukraine Contact Group, where we will mobilize more support, coordinate our military support to Ukraine.

We will meet in the NATO-Ukraine Council, that we established at the Vilnius Summit.  That will further strengthen our relationship and help Ukraine move towards NATO membership.

We will also tomorrow meet and address deterrence and defence. We agreed the new defence plans at the Vilnius Summit.  And now everything is about implementing those defence plans, with 300,000 troops on high readiness.

We will also address NATO’s missions and operations, including our presence in Iraq, helping to prevent ISIS from returning.

And also our presence in Kosovo. We have seen new increased tensions there, so it’s important that NATO has increased its presence in Kosovo.

Then we will also address the incident in the Baltic Sea, with the damage caused to critical undersea infrastructure.

I spoke with President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas yesterday and we are in close contact. The important thing now is to establish what happened and how this could happen. If it is proven to be a deliberate attack on NATO critical infrastructure, then this will be of course serious, but it will also be met by a united and determined response from NATO.

And tomorrow, we will also be briefed by the Israeli Defence Minister Gallant on the situation in Israel. Allies condemned the horrific terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in Israel over the weekend. And we are looking forward to the briefing from the Defence Minister.

So once again, dear President Zelenskyy, dear Volodymyr, welcome to NATO.

Your fight is our fight. Your security is our security and your values are our values. We will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes.


President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy: Thank you so much.

Secretary General first of all thank you so much that two weeks ago I think you’ve been to Kyiv and it was very important meeting. We spoke about priorities for Ukraine, for defending how to go, how to survive during this next winter for us is one of the biggest challenges what will be but anyway we are preparing. We are ready now, we need some support from the leaders. That is why I am here today. Thank you for the invitation. Of course I will have the possibility to speak and address all the ministers of defence on the platform. Rammstein is so important, about 50 representatives of Ministers of Defence and their teams and Ministers so important. We will speak about priorities how to push Russia out, it means out of our native land and it means we will stop the war and yes we will speak about it.

You mentioned Secretary that tomorrow you will speak about the situation in Israel. There will be some signals from us from Ukraine. Of course we are in a war so we understand what does it mean terroristic attacks, such victims, tragedy. My recommendation if I can use this word, my recommendation for the leaders of the world I remember the first days of our full scale war, it began from terroristic attacks from Belorus by missile then Russian army, that was the biggest tragedy what we had so many dying people and so many deaths, so many and it was very importantnot to be alone, very important. And it can help to save your nation people save the lives. So my recommendation to the leaders to go to Israel and I think to support people, just people. I am not speaking about any institutions, just to support people who have been under terroristic attacks, people who are dying now. It is very important. Unity is more important than to be alone. It is more strong. It is very important. That is what I can say about it. Sometimes we are thinking how to prevail or how to stop the war, how to manage dialogue with Iran or Russia. I think we have to think oppositely. We have not to give possibility for aggressors even to think about the third world war, the new wave of aggression, the new big tragedy. That means if there is a big political support of the people this means unity. That is why I recommend to go there. Of course Israeli  side will be ready.

NATO Spokesperson Dylan White: We will take a question from Kyiv independent

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy:

I have to answer in English.

I said already that it is very important that there are priorities. Air defence systems. It is not just basic words. We need concrete things and we need them in very concrete geographic points on our land to save energy networks, to save people, to save grain, to save these routes for Africa, Asia, for the world. So it is important. There are long distance missiles or long distance weapons doesn’t matter how you call the problem, how to get it, yes because you need these especially for the one reason to push Russia out of our land. I think these two things are the most important. The third thing how to defend, just to stay each day and defend. It is not just about counter offensive. Counter defensive is one direction but you also have to defence because opposite you is Russia, big army of these terrorists. That is about artillery. Just speaking about artillery. Three very concrete things.

NATO Spokesperson Dylan White: Kyiv independent please

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: I think she is supposed to have the question.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy: About EU… I'm so sorry, very quickly about EU. I don't know, maybe we'll meet with President Michel, or…  We will see what will be today, because everything is very quick. But I will be happy. We will have this plan. Our teams will connect. But anyway, we had a meeting some days ago with President Michel, we spoke about it. Almost everything is ready from our side to open negotiations. So we have done almost everything.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Fine. Kyiv Independent now.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy: Okay.

Asami Terajima (Kyiv Independent): (Inaudible) Ukrainian….

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy: And it’s true, Kyiv is independent.

Asami Terajima (Kyiv Independent): Thank you, I’m from Kyiv. Ukrainian soldiers on the ground say there is severe lack of ammunition, particularly mortar bombs. That makes it even more difficult to wage a counteroffensive. What are NATO countries trying to help Ukraine and how soon can we expect rapid increases in price, and why has it been taking so long for NATO countries to increase the production of ammunition to match their needs? And sorry, Mr. Zelenskyy, I have a… what are the most critical weapons that you need… your country needs to… to have a better result of the counteroffensive?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Well, first of all, we need today to mobilize more support for Ukraine. And as President Zelenskyy just said, this is about air defenses, about artillery, about ammunition. And I welcome the new announcement we have just heard in the last couple of days from Romania and also from Germany. And I expect more NATO Allies to make further announcements today for more support to Ukraine. Because we need to sustain and step up their support. Air defense is critical to protect the cities, the economy, the critical infrastructure of Ukraine. And that helps them to help themselves. Because then their economy can function, then things can work in Ukraine. And that will help Ukrainians to produce, to trade, to function as a normal country. And that will increase their ability to finance, and to provide also ammunition themselves for the war.

What we are seeing now is that President Putin is preparing, once again, to use winter as a weapon of war. Meaning attacking the energy system, the gas infrastructure. We need to prevent that. And with more advanced and increased capabilities for air defense, we can make a big difference.

NATO Allies have stepped up production. We have now 2,5… 2,4 billion in what we call framework contracts for increased ammunition production, out of which 1 billion is firm contracts. And we're constantly working on ramping up production to enable Ukraine to continue to fight this just war, and to continue to move on to liberate the land.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy: Secretary General answered…  (inaudible)

(Question inaudible)

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy: We'll see, we'll have a meeting with Prime Minister, I hope. We will speak not only about F-16s. We also have to think how to live during the war. It means reconstruction, and there are some voices in the world that we don't have money to help Ukraine in reconstruction. The answer is very quick. You have assets, Russian assets. If they destroy us, we can use this money. Let's find the key to have this Russian money, and spend them on reconstruction of Ukraine. That is one of the main things that I want to speak about with the Prime Minister.

NATO Secretary General: President Zelenskyy has to attend many important meetings. Now we need to end this. Thank you.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy: Thank you so much.