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

  • 03 Apr. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 04 Apr. 2024 16:02

(As delivered)

Doorstep statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Good morning.

Foreign Ministers will meet today and tomorrow to mark NATO’s 75th anniversary, and to prepare for our Summit in Washington in July.

NATO was founded on a single, solemn promise: an attack on one Ally is an attack on all. 

From that foundation, we have built the most powerful and successful Alliance in history. 
And over the past 75 years, NATO’s Open Door has helped to spread democracy and prosperity across Europe.
As we celebrate NATO's achievements, we do not rest upon them. 

Europe now faces war on a scale we thought was resigned to history. 

In recent days, the Kremlin has launched new major attacks, striking Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. 
And Russia continues to press along the frontlines.

So we must stand firm in our support to Ukraine. 
And I welcome that Allies continue to make major deliveries of weapons, ammunition, and equipment.

But Ukraine has urgent needs.  
Any delay in providing support has consequences on the battlefield as we speak.

So we need to shift the dynamics of our support.

We must ensure reliable and predictable security assistance to Ukraine for the long haul. 

So that we rely less on voluntary contributions and more on NATO commitments.

Less on short-term offers and more on multi-year pledges.

therefore Ministers will discuss how NATO could assume more responsibility for coordinating military equipment and training for Ukraine anchoring this within a robust NATO framework. 

We will also discuss a multi-year financial commitment to sustain our support.
This ministerial will set the stage for achieving consensus on these issues as we prepare for the Washington Summit.

NATO Allies provide 99 percent of all military support to Ukraine.

So doing more under NATO would make our efforts more efficient, and more effective.

Moscow needs to understand that they cannot achieve their goals on the battlefield and they cannot wait us out.

Tomorrow we will hold a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council.

With Minister Kuleba, we will address the current situation and Ukraine’s needs both now and for the future. 

We are transforming NATO’s comprehensive assistance package into a multi-year programme of assistance. 

We are helping Ukraine move closer to NATO, NATO standards on everything from procurement to logistics.

And we are supporting Ukraine’s reform efforts to bring Ukraine ever closer to the Alliance. 

Ukraine will become a member of NATO. 
It is a question of when, not if. 

Tomorrow, we will also meet with our Indo-Pacific partners: Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. 
Together with the European Union.

We know that our security is not regional – it is global.
The war in Ukraine illustrates this clearly.

Russia’s friends in Asia are vital for continuing its war of aggression.

China is propping up Russia’s war economy.
In return, Moscow is mortgaging its future to Beijing.

North Korea and Iran are delivering substantial supplies of weapons and ammunition.

In return, Pyongyang and Tehran are receiving Russian technology and supplies that help them advance their missile and nuclear capabilities.

This has regional and global security consequences.

So like-minded nations around the world need to stand together. 
To defend a global order ruled by law, not by force.

Tomorrow we will discuss how best to work together towards this end. 

We also have much to gain from practical cooperation – including on technology, cyber, and hybrid threats.
As well as support to Ukraine.

All of this matters for European security.
And for Indo-Pacific security.

Countering rising global threats requires sustained spending.

A record number of Allies will meet NATO’s 2 percent of GDP spending target this year. 
And I look forward to further progress. 

At our ministerial, we will also discuss how to address instability in our southern neighbourhood. 
Including the continuing threat of terrorism.

We will also agree a new policy on Women, Peace and Security.
Because our societies are stronger and safer when we draw on the contributions of all our people.

And with that, I am happy to take some questions. 


Lorne Cook, Associated Press: Secretary General, I understand you've been working on an idea of perhaps more predictable longer term support for Ukraine that might involve the transfer of the Ukrainian contact group to NATO control, perhaps also some finances. Could you tell us a bit more about it and why it's important, please.

NATO Secretary General: Well, I see that you have been briefed on the proposal, but I will not go into the details of the proposal. What I can say is that I welcome that Allies agree that we need to sustain our support to Ukraine, we need to make it more robust and therefore we are now discussing ways to institutionalise more of the support within a NATO framework to make it more predictable, to make it more robust, because we strongly believe that support to Ukraine should be less dependent on short term voluntary offers and more dependent on long term NATO commitments. By doing that, we will give Ukraine what they need. And that is long term, predictable, robust support. And that will also send a message to Moscow that they cannot wait us out.

And the reality is that if you want this war to end, the sooner we can convince Moscow that they will not win on the battlefield, that they cannot wait us out, the sooner we can then be able to reach a peace agreement where Russia realises that that they cannot win the war, but have to sit down and negotiate an agreement where Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent nation. So a stronger NATO role in coordinating and providing support is a way to end this war in a way where Ukraine prevails. We already have a lot of coordination. 99% of the support to Ukraine comes from NATO Allies and of course, I welcome the capability coalitions, the Ramstein format, many other multinational and bilateral initiatives, but there is a need to give this a more robust and institutionalised framework to ensure predictability and commitment for the long haul.

NATO Spokesperson Farah Dakhlallah: Thank you. The next question is to ZDF, Florian.

Florian Neuhann ZDF: Yes, thank you very much, Mr Stoltenberg. The number we were briefed on is 100 billion. Can you say anything about this number, and especially if you're talking about fresh and new money, or just adding up what has been promised already by member states of NATO? And the second question, are you planning to abolish the Ramstein format and really include it into NATO?

NATO Secretary General: So first, what is obvious is that we need new and more money for Ukraine and we need it over many years. And the whole idea of now discussing frameworks, commitments, an institutionalised framework for the support is to ensure more predictability and more confidence in that the money will come every month every year for the long haul. So again, I will not go into the details. I don't… there will be no final decision at the meeting today and tomorrow.

We will hopefully move forward towards consensus and then we will have an agreement in place by the Summit. The reason why we do this is the situation on the battlefield in Ukraine. It is serious. We see how Russia is pushing and we see how they try to win this war by just waiting us out. And therefore we need to answer by sending a clear message of practical support, financial support, and an institutional framework that ensures that we are there for the long haul to be able to end the war.

So I'm absolutely certain that Allies agree that we need more money, we need new money. We need it for many years. What we are now discussing is exactly the framework to establish that. Whatever we do, of course, will be closely coordinated with all the other initiatives that NATO Allies are part of. NATO is part of the Ramstein group. NATO Allies are part of the Ramstein group. 99% of the NATO support provided to the Ramstein group is provided by NATO Allies. We meet here at the NATO Headquarters, we discuss this issue both at the Ramstein format here at the NATO Headquarters.

We discuss them at NATO ministerial meetings, it's very much the same people. And actually the people responsible for delivering the support today, it's actually… many of them working for NATO Allies, or all of them are actually working for NATO Allies. And the General responsible for the whole logistics, the support that goes to Poland, to the hub in Poland now, all the work in Wiesbaden that underpins the work of the... that's General Cavoli. And General Cavoli is the US commander in Europe, but General Cavoli is also the NATO commander in Europe. And of course, I think that General Cavoli can coordinate with General Cavoli. It's the same man, the same people, the same countries, the same money from the same countries. So, of course, NATO Allies will be able to coordinate. Now we're discussing how to have the best institutions, the best commitments, and the best framework to ensure efficiency, predictability, political oversight, and that we have the endurance needed to ensure that Ukraine prevails.

NATO Spokesperson Farah Dakhlallah: Thank you. The next question is to Oleg from European Pravda.

Oleg Pavliuk European Pravda: Thanks so much. Mr Secretary General, two quick questions. First, could you please preview us on what's going to be discussed at the NATO Ukraine Council and whether those things that you mentioned regarding Ukraine support, long term commitments are going to be part of that? Second question, Ukrainian leadership has been claiming that Russia is preparing a major counter offensive to take place in May or June. So what is NATO's assessment of that? Do you see any preparations, any military build-up on the part of Russia to do that? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: Well, we see a constant Russian military build-up. We see how they are receiving ammunition and weapons from North Korea and Iran, a significant amount of weapons and ammunition. We see how Russia has been able to put their economy on a war footing. And we see how Russia, Moscow, is willing to pay a very high price in terms of men and material in marginal gains on the Ukrainian battlefield with little to no respect for human lives.

So this is, of course, the reason why the situation on the battle frontline is so difficult, is so challenging. And that's exactly the reason why we need to do more from NATO Allies. Both the urgent need for more air defence, for more artillery, but also the more long term institutionalised effort of establishing the frameworks, the structures, moving away from short term announcements, short term offers to long term real commitments, multi-year commitments to ensure the predictability and the sustainability of our support to address exactly what we have seen coming from Russia, a military build-up over a long time.

NATO Spokesperson Farah Dakhlallah: Thank you very much. We'll move over to New Zealand TV.

New Zealand TV: How important is it that the Indo Pacific partners continue to give to Ukraine as well? And how important is it that they're here for these next two days?

NATO Secretary General: I welcome very much that our Indo Pacific partners take part in our foreign ministerial meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow. I just met with the Foreign Minister of New Zealand. We had a very good discussion, and it reflects the fact that our security is not regional, our security is global. What happens in Ukraine matters for Asia. The more successful Putin is in Ukraine, the more likely it is that we can see something similar happen in the South China Sea. And we see also how Russia's friends in Asia are helping him supporting his war of aggression against Ukraine. Iran and North Korea are key providers of weapons and ammunition to Russia. So this just highlights that security in Asia is intertwined with security in Europe, and therefore the Asia and the Pacific is important for us.

I welcome also the fact that I have now invited for the third time, the heads of state and government from New Zealand, Australia, Japan and South Korea, our partners in the Asia Pacific, to attend the summit in Washington in July. This reflects that we are actually now doing more together. And I believe, and I also welcome that we are now discussing also flagship projects. How we could do more on cyber, on resilience, also in providing support to Ukraine and I commend New Zealand and other partners in the region for actually being major providers of non-lethal support to NATO's comprehensive assistance package for Ukraine. So, we welcome them, it's great to have such strong partners. And in a world where authoritarian partners align more and more it is even more important that likeminded countries like Australia and NATO Allies… New Zealand, also align and work more closely together.

NATO Spokesperson Farah Dakhlallah: Thank you. We'll take one final question from Alexandra Filipenko.

Alexandra Filipenko the Breakfast Show: Hello, thank you. Will, and how will hopefully Ukraine contact group be instilled in the NATO organism? And is it a form of a Trump proof measure? Does it indicate that NATO is concerned with the possibility of Trump presidency?

NATO Secretary General: So first of all, again, NATO is part of the contact group. The contact group has done extremely important work, has been key in delivering support, and NATO Allies have delivered unprecedented level of military support to Ukraine, not least organised by the UDCG, the Ukraine defence contact group, the Ramstein format.  And as I said, I am absolutely certain that whatever NATO does we will be able to coordinate with the existing structures, because it's very much the same people in charge of everything, here it is General Cavoli who is the US commander, but at the same time also the NATO commander, so of course, this will be coordinated. Then, then what was the next…?

Question: is it a form of Trump proof measure?

NATO Secretary General: Well, the reason why we discuss this is that we see the situation on the battlefield. We see how demanding and difficult the situation is in Ukraine. So therefore we welcome everything NATO Allies have done. At the same time, we see that we need to do more. It's not enough. And Ukrainians they need more support, but they also need more predictable and long term support, so it's possible to plan, to organise and launch offensives. Then you need long term planning, you need to know what you are going to have, and what type of equipment, and what kind of support, and what kind of maintenance. And this requires a stronger institutionalised framework to deliver more robust and predictable support to Ukraine. So that's the reason why we're discussing this. It's a reflection of the seriousness on the battlefield.

Then I would like to say that of course we all believe it's important, or I strongly believe it's important that Allies make decisions fast. And that includes, of course, the United States, because the United States is not the only supporter for Ukraine. Actually, European Allies and Canada are providing roughly 50% of the military support to Ukraine. So this is really a shared effort by the United States and European Allies and Canada. But of course, United States is the biggest Ally and is providing the most military support. And the fact that there has been no agreement in the US Congress on a supplemental or continued this support has consequences. That's one of the reasons why the Ukrainians have to ration the number of artillery shells, why they have problems standing up against the Russian force with overwhelming military power because they're able to outgun them with more ammunition and more artillery.

And the answer to that is to, then, make the decisions and not least in the US Congress. Any delay has real consequences on the battlefield. I met Senators, Members of the House of Representatives over the last weeks and they have all assured me that there is a big majority in the US Congress for support. So the issue is now to turn that majority into a vote, a firm decision. And I hope that can happen as soon as possible. There is also a big majority in the US public for continued support to Ukraine. So I expect the US now to make a decision, because it's in the US security interest to ensure that President Putin doesn't prevail in Ukraine, not least because this will also encourage other authoritarian leaders, including Beijing, to use military force and tp violate international law.

NATO Spokesperson Farah Dakhlallah: Thank you, Secretary General. There will be opportunities for more questions this afternoon at the press conference. Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: Thank you.