Joint press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with Defence Minister of Germany, Boris Pistorius

  • 10 Nov. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 10 Nov. 2023 16:13

(As delivered)

Minister Pistorius, dear Boris.

Thank you so much for welcoming me here once again, it is great to be back and great to meet you. And thank you for leadership and strong personal commitment to NATO, to the trans-Atlantic bond.

And not least, thank you for your leadership in transforming the transforming the German Bundeswehr.

Germany's leading role in NATO matters at this critical moment for European security.

Russia's war against Ukraine rages on.
Missiles continue to strike Ukrainian cities daily.

And Ukraine faces more Russian attacks on its energy grid.
As it heads into the second winter of this war.

Allies continue to provide strong military, financial and humanitarian support.

And Germany plays a key role.

From Marder and Leopard tanks,
to IRIS-T air defences and munitions, German support saves lives.
And helps Ukraine defend their freedom.

And as you said, Germany is the second largest provider of support to Ukraine, just next to the United States. So this really makes a difference.

Russia is also undermining our security by demonstrating complete disregard for arms control.

This week, they withdrew from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.
With this step Russia has walked away from every major arms control treaty.

In February this year, Moscow suspended its participation in the New START Treaty.
The last pact regulating the number of nuclear weapons between the United States and Russia.

And a few years ago, Russia's violations of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, INF, rendered this treaty null and void.

All of this makes the world more dangerous.
And demonstrates the importance of a strong NATO.

At the Vilnius Summit, NATO leaders committed to strengthen our own defences.
With the most robust defence plans since the Cold War.

We are now assigning the necessary forces, developing new capabilities,
and strengthening our command and control structures.

Germany also plays a major part of this effort.

Your navy keeps critical sea-lanes open.
Germany's Sky Shield initiative will bolster NATO's air and missile defences and help to keep our skies safe.
You will station a brigade in Lithuania, protecting our eastern flank from Russian aggression.
And you will make further substantial contributions to the NATO Force Model.
All of these are important contributions to our shared security.

Germany's new Defence Policy Guidelines, which you presented yesterday,
demonstrate that you are delivering on the Zeitenwende. Not only in words, but also in deeds.

We need a strong Bundeswehr, which is ready to fight at the heart of the Alliance. And we need to implement these changes quickly.

I therefore welcome Germany's increased defence spending.
And your clear commitment to invest 2 percent of GDP on defence by next year.

This reflects Germany's responsibility and Germany's leadership.

The war in Ukraine also underlines the importance of ramping up our defence production and our cooperation with the private sector.
So that we can be faster and better in fielding new equipment.

Germany has the technological expertise and the industrial base to scale-up production.
And deliver cutting-edge systems and ammunition.

This matters for Ukraine's security and for our security.

So, dear Boris,
German leadership in NATO matters for peace in Europe.

Thank you, once again, for your strong personal commitment to our Alliance.


Moderator: Thank you very much for your statements. Are there any questions so far?

Journalist: Secretary General, do you fear that if this war in Ukraine continues, as it probably will, support of some member states, for example, Hungary, will dwindle or maybe we will see a different situation in the US after the elections? So are you concerned that the Europeans will have to shoulder a larger part of the burden? And a similar question to the Minister, you and the Chancellor were talking about Zeitenwende and you are now trying to implement that. Would you say that you are really able to further support Ukraine for example, if the Americans provided less support?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Well, what we have seen since this war started is unprecedented support from NATO Allies to Ukraine. And President Putin made at least two big strategic mistakes when he invaded Ukraine. The first and most important was that he totally underestimated the Ukrainians, their courage, their determination, the bravery of the Ukraine Armed Forces, the political leadership, the Ukrainian people. But the other big strategic mistake President Putin made was to underestimate NATO, NATO Allies and partners, because since the war, Allies have delivered unprecedented support, including advanced air defence systems, battle tanks, F-16s, cruise missiles, and many other types of ammunition, weapons and military support to Ukraine.

And I'm confident that NATO Allies will continue to do so not only because we have agreed at the NATO summit, and also in the US-led Contact Group for Defence, again and again, that we will continue to provide support to Ukraine, but also because it is in our interest to do so.

We have to remember and understand that if President Putin wins in Ukraine, it is tragic for the Ukrainians, but it's also dangerous for us, because then the message to President Putin or other authoritarian leaders will be that when they use military force, when they violate international law, when they invade another country, they get what they want. And that will make us more vulnerable.

So, I'm confident that North America and Europe together will continue to support Ukraine. Also because we know that the stronger Ukraine is on the battlefield, the stronger their hand will be on the negotiating table. So if you want a negotiated peaceful solution to this conflict, the way to get there is by providing military support to Ukraine to facilitate a solution which is lasting and just.