by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting
Thanks so much.
President Zelenskyy, Secretary Austin, Minister Umerov and General Brown, distinguished colleagues, it’s a great honour to welcome you all to the NATO Headquarters.
Secretary Austin, dear Lloyd, thank you for your leadership. You have been instrumental since day one.
In garnering international support to Ukraine’s war efforts.
President Zelenskyy, your leadership, the heroism of the Ukrainian armed forces and the resolve of the Ukrainian people, have impressed us all.
When President Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, he thought Kyiv would fall within days and Ukraine within weeks.
He was wrong.
The Ukrainian armed forces have exceeded expectations again and again.
You have taken back 50% of the territory seized by Russia since February last year.
You are inflicting a high cost on the Russian forces.
Russia is degraded militarily, weaker economically and more isolated politically.
But there is no sign that Putin has given up on his ambitions.
On the contrary.
Russia has increased attack on critical infrastructure and is preparing again to use winter as a weapon of war.
So we must continue to step up and sustain the steady flow of weapons and ammunitions to Ukraine.
The stronger Ukraine is on the battlefield, the stronger they will be at the negotiating table, and the sooner this war will end.
And we need to put in place a long-term framework that will ensure history does not repeat itself.
Therefore, all Allies agree that Ukraine will become a member of NATO.
At our Vilnius Summit in July, Allies removed the requirement for a Membership Action Plan.
We introduced a program to make Ukraine’s armed forces fully interoperable with your future Allies.
And we established a NATO-Ukraine Council, where Allies and Ukraine sit as equals.
So dear Volodymyr, again it is a pleasure to welcome you to NATO.
Your fight is our fight.
Your security is our security.
Your values are our values.
We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. Thank you.