Joint press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the Prime Minister of Czechia, Petr Fiala, the Prime Minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, at NATO Headquarters

  • 17 Apr. 2024 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 17 Apr. 2024 17:34

(As delivered)

Prime Minister Rutte,
Prime Minister Frederiksen,
Prime Minister Fiala, 

Welcome to all of you. It’s great to see you here at the NATO Headquarters.

And many thanks for your very strong commitment to our transatlantic bond,
And for your leadership you have demonstrated in providing support to Ukraine.

We just had an important and timely discussion on how to step up further our support to Ukraine.
In particular on how to provide more air defence systems to Ukraine.

Because the situation on the battlefield remains very difficult.
And we have all heard Ukraine’s clear and urgent appeal for more support.

I'm actually encouraged both by the messages I've heard in the meeting today by three important Allies, 
But also by what Allies have announced over the last few days.

Yesterday, Denmark announced a major new package of aid. 
The Netherlands has just announced 4 billion euros in additional military support. 
And the Czech-led initiative is receiving hundreds of millions of euros for more artillery shells for Ukraine. 
And then, of course, Germany announced it will send another Patriot system to Ukraine,
A part of the important effort we are now making across the NATO Alliance to step up our delivery of air defence systems to Ukraine.

I am also encouraged by indications that the U.S. Congress may take up further aid to Ukraine in the coming days.

All of this comes on top of unprecedented aid already being provided. 
Including F-16s from Denmark and from the Netherlands.

But Ukraine needs even more.

That is why if Allies face a choice between meeting NATO capability targets and providing more aid to Ukraine, 
My message is clear: 
Send more to Ukraine. 

Denmark is a strong example, providing all of their artillery to the Ukrainians, 
But also with clear plans in place to replenish national stocks.

In our meeting today, we agreed that NATO should have a greater role in coordinating security assistance and training for Ukraine.
We also agree that Ukraine needs predictable financial support for the long haul.
And we will continue to work on this as a matter of urgency. 

So once again, dear Mark, dear Mette, dear Petr, 
It’s great to have you here.

Please Mark, you have the floor.


NATO Spokesperson Farah Dakhlallah
Thank you Prime Ministers. Questions, we’ll take some questions from the floor. I’ll start with NOS.

Question (NOS)
Thank you very much. On behalf of all Dutch press present here, thank you very much. I understand that President Zelenskyy is of course very worried about the situation and has asked for a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council. When will it take place and on which level? And connected with this, I heard you say that when it comes to choosing between what is needed for countries to provide to NATO or to Ukraine, you clearly say ‘give everything to Ukraine’. Yesterday, we heard our prime minister next to you saying in parliament that it's not possible to send Dutch Patriots to Ukraine because of these NATO requirements. So my question is: are you saying that the Dutch could provide this Patriot system to Ukraine? And connected to this also, did you already show Mr. Rutte his new desk as the next Secretary General? Tusen takk.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
First of all, President Zelenskyy has asked for a meeting on the NATO-Ukraine Council. We will convene the meeting on Friday. That will be with President Zelenskyy and then with NATO Defence Ministers to address the urgent needs for more support to Ukraine. In particular, I expect there will be a focus on air defence as we have discussed today, but also on more artillery rounds, following up the Czech-initiative supported by Netherlands and Denmark and other Allies, to purchase more artillery and to get them over to Ukraine as soon as possible. I think this demonstrates the value of the NATO-Ukraine Council which is one of the decisions we made together in Vilnius, to strengthen our institutionalised partnership with Ukraine and to use the Council for consultations and to address urgent matters like the provision of more military support.

Then, of course, we have NATO defence plans. And we have associated capability targets, different types of forces, of ammunition, of weapon systems that each and every Ally should have. And of course, as Secretary General of NATO, it's important for me that all Allies meet and deliver on those capability targets. But I realise that at least in the short term, there may be a conflict between meeting all the targets and delivering what Ukraine needs now. And therefore I have made it clear that if the only way to deliver support to Ukraine is to go below the NATO capability targets, well, that's the right thing to do. At the end of the day, this has to be a national decision. There has to be a balance between the increased risks we then have to face for our own national defence. But the reality is that to support Ukraine, and to help them destroy Russian combat capabilities, also enhances our security.

And therefore, I have stated clearly if that's needed, then we can go below the NATO capability targets. Then of course, it highlights the importance of ramping up production because then you have to replenish the different stocks. So we also discussed today the importance of getting our production to ensure that we soon again meet the NATO capability targets.

Then it's not for me to comment on my successor. Tusen takk.

NATO Spokesperson
Okay, we’ll have a second question from Danish media this time. Yes, go ahead.

Question (Danish media)
[inaudible] from Danish National Radio Television. Secretary General, we saw just a couple of days ago when Iran attacked Israel that had a very very efficient air defence system. At the same time, we see that more and more drones and missiles get through when attacks on Ukraine. Do we, as the West, have the capability of handling two conflicts at the same time? And how are we going to do that? Because it looks like we're going to need a lot more air defence systems if the situation in the Middle East escalates [inaudible].

NATO Secretary General
NATO has the capability of handling more than one conflict at a time and NATO Allies have that capability. Together we represent 50% of the world's military might and we have strong Allies, and we have Allies with many high-end capabilities, including the Allies which are here. Then I think that the fact that we now have a full-fledged war in Europe and then the war in the Middle East demonstrates the importance of what we have started doing at NATO. And that is to implement the biggest reinforcements of our Alliance since the end of the Cold War with higher readiness of our troops, with combat-ready troops in eastern part of the Alliance, and not least with increased defence spending. And again, the countries standing here, they are really examples of how Allies are now adapting. They all meet the 2% guideline. They all invest heavily in new capabilities because we reduce defence spending when tensions went down. And now we have to increase defence spending when tensions are going up and that's exactly what Allies are doing.

NATO Spokesperson
Thank you, Secretary General. Member of the Czech press corps, yes, go ahead.

[inaudible] Czech television. I've got a question on air defence systems. We've heard recently, Josep Borrell, the chief of EU diplomacy saying that there are 100 of batteries of Patriots available in Western countries. And Ukraine has asked for seven of them. So is this the target you're seeking for? Is it possible to gather seven batteries and send them to Ukraine? And the second question is primarily to our prime minister. People in Slovakia started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money and to take part in the Czech initiative because their government doesn't want to take part. So is it actually conceivable that private money crowdfunded on the internet could be used as part of this project? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General
I cannot go into the exact numbers because that's classified information I cannot go into. There are less than 100 in Europe. Actually, there's significantly less than 100 in Europe. But of course, the whole Alliance has a significant number of Patriot batteries. But that's also reflecting the fact that the United States, which is the Ally with the most Patriot batteries, has global responsibilities. But the reality is that of course, we have systems available that are big enough to enable us to deliver significantly more to Ukraine when it comes to air defence in general and also when it comes to Patriot batteries, and that's exactly what we're working on.

Prime Minister of Czechia Petr Fiala
So the question about the Slovak initiative, it's very nice to hear about it. Firstly, I would like to thank all people who trying to help the brave defenders of Ukraine. It is really great to see this initiative. We will check all the options. But this initiative is primarily built as a government one. But in all cases, there are many options how to contribute. There are many fundraising campaigns which can be used for it. I am very happy that so many people in Slovak Republic want to help and they are different possibilities but the Czech ammunition initiative is primarily built as a government one.

NATO Spokesperson
Thank you. We'll take one last question. Any hands? Yes, go ahead.

[inaudible] from the Netherlands. Did you consider the three of you, rich countries, to do something the three of you? Or do you want to have a bigger group of people like the 20 that do joint procurements? On the air defence, I mean.

Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte
On air defence… But I stand corrected, so please chip in, but I would argue that money is not a first issue here. We have committed again another over 4 billion which brings our total to over 10 billion and all of us have committed a lot of money. So I don't think money is the issue here. The main issue here is to get the systems themselves. We saw with the Czech shells initiative that as soon as it was clear that there was this outlook to half a million, maybe even 1 million shells, that it was relatively easy – relatively easy – to get the money. The question is how to get the systems and here we are looking into the European… our European partners, of course, the whole of NATO, but also outside NATO. So this production, it is outside NATO, within NATO. But I think money will not be the problem.

Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen
And if I can just add, I think the message we got from the Secretary General today is very important because all of us in the Alliance is balancing the needs we have as members of NATO and our own deterrence and defence and all the things we want to do for Ukraine. But the message has been very clear today, that when we're looking at the battlefield at the moment, we need to deliver more, especially ammunition and air defence. And that is the most important target for all NATO members right now. So with that clear message, I think it will be easier for the three of us, together with the [inaudible] from Germany this weekend, and also the days after, to ensure that we will deliver what Ukraine needs right now. And it is especially air defence.

NATO Spokesperson
Thank you. Thank you all. This concludes the press conference. Thank you.