Doorstep statement

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers in Capri, Italy

  • 18 Apr. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 18 Apr. 2024 20:36

(As delivered)

It’s a pleasure to be here in Capri and to meet with the G7 Foreign Ministers and also to meet them together with Foreign Minister Kuleba. We will address the situation in Ukraine. Of course, the situation on the battlefield is now difficult. The Russians are pushing along the whole frontline and they are launching waves of airstrikes against Ukrainian cities, infrastructure and against Ukrainian forces.

At the same time, I see some important encouraging signs when it comes to NATO Allies stepping up support for Ukraine. Just this week, we had the new announcements from Denmark, from the Netherlands announcing 4 billion more euros for defence for Ukraine. Then we have, of course, Germany announcing a full Patriot battery to strengthen Ukraine's air defences. This is a very advanced air defence system. And then we now have encouraging signs from the US Congress that they will vote on a package of 61 billion US dollars for Ukraine in the coming days. And if we put this together with all the other announcements that we have seen over the last weeks, I'm encouraged by the commitment, of the determination by NATO Allies to stand up for Ukraine. Ninety-nine percent of the military support for Ukraine comes from NATO Allies and it is of vital importance that NATO Allies sustain and step up their support.

We will focus today on air defence, this urgent critical need for more air defence. We're working actively on that in NATO now, ever since Foreign Minister Kuleba attended our Foreign Ministerial meeting just two weeks ago in Brussels. So we have stepped up. We have compiled data about the different air defence systems we have in NATO, focused on the Patriot systems. And we are working with Allies to ensure that they redeploy some of their systems to Ukraine — Germany had already made a decision — and also came to how to mobilise funding for financing deployments of air defence systems to Ukraine.

Then we see that there is need for more ammunition, for more deep strike capabilities, for more maintenance, repair capabilities. So there is a need now to ensure that we have a more robust and institutionalised framework around the support for Ukraine. And we're discussing how we can establish that within the NATO framework in the near future, combined with a substantial multiyear financial pledge because we need predictable, we need robust, we need long term support to Ukraine to ensure that they fill the gaps and provide more support to Ukraine.

Lastly, I will say that I look forward to the meeting today with the G7 foreign ministers and also Foreign Minister Kuleba. But tomorrow we will have a NATO-Ukraine Council meeting as convened from the NATO Headquarters in Brussels with President Zelenskyy. I spoke with him yesterday. He asked for a meeting on the NATO-Ukraine Council and we’ll be convening tomorrow afternoon.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
I'm ready for some question and answers.

Is it possible that all the countries besides Germany will give Patriots to Ukraine?

NATO Secretary General
Yes, that's possible. We are working on that now. I cannot make any specific announcements but we are working on the possibility of more Patriot batteries to  Ukraine. We’re in dialogue with some specific countries. But to also highlight that the Patriot batteries are critical because they are the most advanced. They can shoot down the advanced ballistic missiles and especially hypersonic Russian missiles, the Kinzhal missiles can be downed by Patriot batteries. So definitely Patriot batteries are so important, but also other systems NASAMS, AMRAAM’s, RST and many other systems are also important. So we are working with Allies also to provide more on the other systems.

I mean, you mentioned that there are other, it's not only Patriots, it’s also SAMP/T’s. For example, is it that France and Italy might be available to give some of them SAMP/T’s? And one other question, are you aware that following today's news from Germany, that other espionage and sabotage over Russian operations might be underway against military installations in Europe?

NATO Secretary General
So we are working with Allies; this was discussed at the Foreign Minister meeting two weeks ago. We are working at NATO, with all Allies, and we are either asking them to provide the systems like for instance, Patriot or SAMP/T but also other systems, so NASAMS and many others. And those Allies who don't have air defence systems, we ask them to provide financial support.

And again just yesterday I was together with Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and the Netherlands has announced now a new package of 4 billion euros. And Prime Minister Mark Rutte made it very clear that some of this can be used for air defence. And of course if the new US package of 61 billion US dollars is agreed within days, then of course there will also be money for air defence there.

When it comes to espionage and cyber attacks, that's something we are constantly aware of the risk. We have seen many cyberattacks. We have seen attempts to spy on NATO systems, infrastructure. So this is something we are ensuring that we have maximum vigilance and we are taking the necessary actions to prevent any vulnerabilities in our systems.

Secretary General, what will be the consequences if Ukraine doesn't get the support it says it so desperately needs?

NATO Secretary General
If NATO Allies don't support Ukraine, then they will not be able to defend their country. And that's the reason why it is so important that we provide support to Ukraine. NATO Allies have provided unprecedented support to Ukraine so far. 99% of the NATO support has come from NATO Allies, but there is a need to do more. And that's exactly why we meet here, ehy we meet with President Zelenskyy tomorrow to mobilise more support. Their urgent needs now are air defence and artillery rounds.

But in the more longer term, we need a more institutionalised, more stable robust framework around our support. So we can organise and coordinate it better, and also that we have multiyear commitments to ensure that the Ukrainians can plan and to ensure that they have the necessary capabilities when they need them. Because in the long run, of course, we cannot continue to be in a situation where Russia is outgunning Ukraine in the way they do now. The Russians are shooting and shooting and Ukrainians have limited resources to shoot back. So the Ukrainians need more. That's the urgent and important message from me to all Allies.

Can you exclude, sir, a Russian attack against one of the NATO countries?

NATO Secretary General
NATO is there to prevent an attack on any NATO country.

Like Italy?

NATO Secretary General
We don't have any information, any indication of any imminent threat against any NATO Ally. And the reason why we don't have that is that NATO is the strongest Alliance in history. And we are able to deliver every day, in every corner of this Alliance, credible deterrence. And the purpose of NATO is actually not to fight the war. The purpose of NATO is to prevent war. And we do that by standing together, making it clear that an attack on one Ally, be it Italy or any other Ally, will be an attack on all and trigger a response for the whole Alliance.

And that's the best way to prevent war, to preserve peace. So as long as we remove any room for misunderstanding or miscalculation in Moscow, or any other potential capital, any potential adversary that we will stand together as NATO Allies, there will be no major attack against any NATO Ally. Because we represent 50% of the world's military might. We have by far the strongest military force in the world. Europe and North American standing together is preventing wars. Thank you.

When we say urgent, how urgent? Is there a timeframe to act and to give the air defence they need?

NATO Secretary General
It is urgent, because every day with delays causes more death and damage in Ukraine. We should have given them more, earlier. So there is a need now, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. So the sooner the better, because delays in delivery of air defence means that more Russian missile will hit the targets in Ukraine. Delays in delivery of ammunition means that Russia will be able to push more along the front line.

So, it can’t wait. Therefore I welcome the announcement this week, 4 billion more from the Netherlands, a new big package from Denmark, one extra Patriot battery which is extremely important, a very advanced of Patriot batteries from Germany; and then, based on reports from Washington, there's a possibility that there will be a vote within days on a big package as of 61 billion US dollars for Ukraine. So of course, put together this will lead to action and provide Ukraine with significant more forces.

Then of course the situation on the battlefield is difficult. It's demanding. We see that the Russians are pushing, but at the same time, we need to remember where the whole thing started. When the war started back in 2022 February, then many experts feared that Ukraine would collapse within weeks and that Russia would control Kyiv within days, in February 2022. That didn’t happen.

The Ukrainians have been able to liberate 50% of the territory that Russia occupied in the beginning of the war and they have been able to open up a corridor in the Black Sea, by sinking many of the Russian ships of the Black Sea fleet and they have been able to impose heavy costs on the invading Russian Army. So the reality is that the Ukrainians have proven extremely competent, skilled, and with encouragement and determination; and combined with ammunitions and weapons from NATO Allies they can make more progress.

What's your take on the lack of Ukrainian soldiers on the ground? There is a deficit of soldiers.

NATO Secretary General
Ukraine needs men and material. NATO Allies can provide material, partly by providing more support, as Allies are now doing, stepping up, as we will discuss today and also at the NATO-Ukraine Council meeting with Zelenskyy tomorrow. He will participate in our meeting virtually from Kyiv, but there is also an important platform to the NATO-Ukraine Council to consult.

Then of course when it comes to men, that's for Ukraine to provide. Ukraine has just now adopted a new law expanding their conscription age. It’s not for me to go into the details, but of course I expect, I am confident that Ukraine will take the necessary decisions to mobilise the necessary number of men and then we should do our part when it comes to material.

And one more thing on material, we are providing support into Ukraine, but as important is to help Ukraine build their own defence industry. And I welcome that several NATO Allies are now working with the Ukrainians to set up factories for drones, for artillery and repair facilities inside Ukraine to help them also produce more of the weapons they need themselves.


NATO Secretary General
We are in favour of sanctions, but it’s not for NATO to decide on sanctions. Thank you so much. Always a pleasure. All the best.