Doorstep statement

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meetings of NATO Ministers of Defence in Brussels

  • 15 Feb. 2024 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 15 Feb. 2024 09:56

(As delivered)

Today, NATO defence ministers will meet to address our support to Ukraine, and how to further strengthen our deterrence and defence. 

And to do both, we need to invest more, and we are on the right track. Because we now have historic numbers when it comes to defence investments. Last year, we saw an 11% real increase in defence spending across Europe and Canada. This year, we expect 18 Allies to meet the target of spending 2% of GDP on defence. And European Allies together spend 280 billion US dollars on defence. And this is 2% of their combined GDP.

But we still have a way to go. Because at our Summit in Vilnius last year, all Allies promised to spend 2% of GDP on defence, and 2% is a minimum.

Then, later on today, I will chair a meeting of the NATO Ukraine Council. We will address how to sustain our support to Ukraine. We see that our support is making a difference on the battlefield every day. Just yesterday, the Ukrainians were able to strike successfully a Russian naval ship, and this demonstrates the skills and the competence of Ukrainian armed forces, also in conducting deep strikes behind the Russian lines.

To ensure that Ukraine gets the weapons, the supplies, the ammunitions they need, we need to ramp up production. And NATO Allies have, just over the last month - since we agreed the defence investment plan - agreed and signed contracts for 10 billion euros, for more orders from different parts of the transatlantic defence industry.

I welcome that NATO Allies are providing more support, more air defence, more ammunition. I welcome the decision by the European Union to allocate 50 billion euros to Ukraine, and I expect the US Congress to agree a package of continued support to Ukraine. Because supporting Ukraine is not charity. Supporting Ukraine is an investment in our own security. And with that, I am now ready toy to take a few questions.

Question ARD: The recent warnings of the US government that Ukraine is running out of ammunition isn't it too little too late what the West is doing to support the country?

NATO Secretary General:
We see the impact already of the fact that the US has not been able to make a decision but I expect the US to be able to make a decision, that the Congress and the House of Representatives will agree a continued support to Ukraine because if we allow President Putin to win it will not only be bad for the Ukrainians, a tragedy for the Ukrainians but it will also be dangerous for us. It will make the world even more dangerous for us and leave us more vulnerable therefore this is our security interest to do so. I visited the United States a couple of weeks ago and I spent a lot of time with the Representatives of both sides of the US Congress and the broad message there was board agreement there for sustained support. I count on the US Congress to be able to reflect that support in a decision to sustain the support for Ukraine.

Question Bloomberg: What is your response to Trump considering raising a two-tiered NATO Alliance whereby Article 5 would only apply to nations that hit their defence spending targets?

NATO Secretary General:
Article 5, the commitment to defend all Allies and that an attack on one Ally will be regarded as an attack on all is the core of NATO, is the heart of NATO and of course that applies for all Allies because we know that any suggestion that we are not there to protect and defend all Allies will undermine the security of all of us and put at risk our soldiers, our personnel who are on the front lines to protect the whole Alliance. So one for all, all for one applies for all Allies and is the heart of NATO

Question NRK:
Mr Secretary General European Leaders seem worried about Donald Trump's statements and there is talk of strategic autonomy again, maybe even a completely different nuclear capacity. Are you worried that Mr. Trump's statements will signal the beginning of the end of NATO and the beginning of something else in Europe?

NATO Secretary General:
I welcome that European Allies are investing more in defence. NATO has called for that for many many years and NATO has also called for European Allies to invest more in high-end capabilities, more forces, high readiness and now European Allies are delivering that and that is a good thing. But that is not an alternative to NATO; that is actually a way to strengthen NATO and we should not pursue any path that indicates that we are trying to divide Europe from North America. The strength is that we have Europe and North America together in NATO. We have to remember that non-EU NATO Allies account for 80% of NATO's defence spending and this is not only about resources but also about georgraphy. If we look to the South we have Turkiye, a non-EU Ally but important for the Southern flank. In the North you have countries like Norway and Iceland, perhaps not the biggest military powers but still extremely critical for the Trans-Atlantic link, for the protection of North America and Europe. And in the West, you have the United States, Canada but also the United Kingdom. So the strength of NATO is that we bring Europe and North America together; together we have 50% of the roles of economic might; 50% of the roles of military might so as long as we stand together we are able to send a message to any adversary that we are able to protect all Allies.

On nuclear let me just say that NATO has a nuclear deterrent and this has worked for decades and this is the ultimate deterrence we have. We should of course always continue to ensure that this nuclear deterrent of NATO remains safe, secure and effective and we have agreed procedures for command and control, doctrines and this is actually a joint effort with the United States and European Allies. We should not do anything to undermine that. That will only create more uncertainty and more room for miscalculation and misunderstanding. We should be committed to the NATO nuclear deterrent and not do anything to undermine that.

Question: Zerkalo, Belarus
In 2020, during the post-election protests in Belarus, Putin supported Lukashenko, including (inaudible) of Rosgvardia near the border of our country. Because democracy in Belarus was lost… if democracy had won, Russia would not have been able to attack Ukraine from Belarus, deploy nuclear weapons, and threaten NATO countries neighboring Belarus. Maybe it's time to change NATO strategy, and start supporting people of Europe fighting for democracy? And what do you about Lukashenko and his aggression?

NATO Secretary General
President Lukashenko and Belarus has been the staging ground for the Russian aggression against Ukraine since the very beginning. When Russia amassed the troops along the Ukrainian border before the invasion, many of them were deployed in Belarus. And large part of the invasion was actually launched from Belarus. So Belarus has been complicit to the Russian aggression against Ukraine since the beginning. We strongly believe that all nations have the right to live in freedom and democracy. And NATO is built on the core values of freedom and democracy. And that also, of course, applies for the people of Belarus. Thank you.