Doorstep statement

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

  • 13 Jun. 2024 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 16 Jun. 2024 19:12

(As delivered)

Good morning,

Today and tomorrow NATO Defence Ministers will meet here at the NATO Headquarters to address a wide range of different important issues.

First on Ukraine we’ll meet in the US led Contact Group for Ukraine, and later today also in the NATO-Ukraine Council with Defence Minister Umerov of Ukraine. We will address the urgent needs for more supplies of weapons, of air defence, of ammunition. And I welcome recent significant announcements by several Allies and I expect more Allies to announce even more support, because there is an urgent need to provide more security assistance to Ukraine.

We will also address how to ensure that we have a more robust framework platform for our support to ensure also that we have a long-term commitment. And therefore, I expect that the NATO Ministers will agree a plan for a NATO security assistance and training for Ukraine. And we'll also discuss a long-term financial pledge that I expect Allied leaders will agree at the NATO Summit in July.

Then we will address deterrence and defence. We have agreed new ambitious defence plans. Now we have to make sure that we have the forces, the capabilities, the readiness, to meet all the requirements in the defence plans.
A part of that will also be of course to ensure that we're able to ramp up production. And the NATO Ministers will address a NATO Defence Industrial Pledge to ensure that we work together to increase production across North America and Europe across the whole Alliance.

Then I expect also NATO Ministers to address the Russian campaign of hostile activities against NATO Allies. We have seen several examples of sabotage, of arson attempts, of cyber-attacks, of disinformation. And we will also then work on NATO response options, which I expect will include increased awareness, exchange of information, intelligence, step up the protection of critical infrastructure, including undersea infrastructure and cyber, and also tighter restrictions on Russian intelligence personnel across the Alliance.

Then we will also meet in the Nuclear Planning Group of the Alliance, which is a regular meeting of this group.

And with that I’m ready to take some questions.


Question: So according to President Zelenskyy, he said that he needs seven air defense systems like patriots. How optimistic are you that you will get this together? And are you willing to convince the other countries to support that?

NATO Secretary General: As soon as President Zelenskyy made that requirements and made it clear that there is an urgent need for more air defense systems, actually at the NATO [foreign] ministerial meeting or ministerial meeting here in April, we have worked hard on that. I welcome that some Allies have made all of the announcements and are in the process of delivering more air defense. That includes Germany that has announced one extra Patriot on top of what they have already delivered. Italy then has announced that they will deliver a SAMP/T air defense system which is another advanced system. And we are working with other Allies also to ensure that we have more Allies delivering these most advanced systems. Then we have already seen that Allies have delivered patriots interceptors. We have seen that Allies are delivering other types of air defense systems. So we are working hard to ensure that Allies are delivering more and as urgently as possible and I expect Allies to make announcements in the coming days and weeks.

Question: Following the agreement yesterday morning with Mr. Orbán, do you have any concerns that other Allies may also start withholding some of their support for Ukraine in terms of military or financial aid?

NATO Secretary General: No. That's because there is broad agreement and there has been other broad agreements across the alliance for many years, and in particular since the full scale invasion in February, that we need to provide military support to to Ukraine. Hungary has been clear since the beginning that they don't provide lethal aid. But other Allies have provided in different formats bilaterally and through the US-led contact group. [inaudible] military support to Ukraine for a long time. What we are doing now is that we are agreeing a NATO plan for a security assistance and training for Ukraine to ensure a more robust framework to ensure more predictability and combined with a financial pledge. The whole idea is to minimize the risk for gaps and delays as we saw earlier this year. Because the gaps and delays in both the provision of military support from the United States but also from several European Allies, made a difference on the battlefield. It is one of the reasons why the Russians are now able to push and to actually occupy more land in Ukraine. And therefore Ukraine needs predictability. They need a long term commitment and also need more accountability. And therefore I'm glad that when I met Prime Minister Orbán yesterday, we agreed that Ukraine [Hungary] will not be part of this effort. They will not send Ukrainian [Hungarian] personnel to the NATO effort to provide more security assistance and training. They will not be part of the financial pledge, but at the same time Hungary Made it clear that they will not block other Allies from moving forward to agree the plan and to agree a financial pledge. And Hungary also, of course, meet all its others NATO obligations, including by their contributions to NATO's common funding.

Question: Has it been agreed then that the Contact Group will be brought under NATO coordination as opposed to the United States.

NATO Secretary General: Contact Group is a US-led effort on the Contact Group has played and is playing a very important role, we meet today here. This is about the practical implementation of the delivery of security assistance and training partly also activities which are now taking place in this [inaudible] so that is separate from the Contact Group.

Question: Thank you very much. This is the last Defense Ministers Meeting before the summit in DC. What would you describe as the biggest stumbling blocks, the biggest issues that you still need to discuss on your way to a successful summit? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General: The main topics at the summit will be Ukraine. It will be the deterrence and defense and it will be our partnership with the Asia Pacific partners, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. Of course we have work to do on all these issues before we finalize the decisions. I expect that today and tomorrow we will agree the plan for NATO security assistance and training for Ukraine. But of course, it remains a work to do on the financial pledge. My proposal is that we should agree a long term financial pledge with a baseline of 40 billion per year. That is new fresh money every year delivered to Ukraine because they need that to be sure that they have the resources to repel the Russian aggression against their country. By having a NATO pledge and a NATO plan, we will have more transparency, more predictability and more accountability and we still have some work to do on that before we have the full agreement in Washington. On deterrence and defense this is very much about having the forces but also ensuring that we are delivering on defense spending. I will soon publish a new report with updated figures for how many Allies that are meeting their [inaudible] spend at least 2% of GDP on defense. I cannot go into the details now but those numbers are good. So it reflects that Allies are taking this seriously it will be important also as a message for the Washington summit on burden sharing, increased defense spending. And then on the Asia Pacific partners we're working now on concrete deliverables on how we can do more together with them in also addressing the challenge that China also for our security. So I don't see any particular big stumbling blocks but there's a hard work that needs to be done as it always is before NATO summits before we have all things in place by the summit.

Question: Good Morning sir, Olivier Baud from AFP. Sir are you worried of the political situation in France, which could bring a pro Russia government which might reduce its support for Ukraine and also advocate for a partial exit of France from NATO?

NATO Secretary General: NATO is an alliance of 32 Allies and we have elections in all these countries and different parties, different governments are elected. And that has been part of NATO's history for 75 years, it has often happened that people have asked questions about if the new government and the majority will be loyal to NATO at the end of the day, this is of course for the voters of each and every country to decide. But the experience is that NATO Allies have always been able to stand united and NATO Allies have regardless of as I say, the different parties elected and the different majorities in the parliaments, we have always seen that the NATO Allies have remained committed to the alliance because this is in the security interests of each and every Ally to be committed, so I expect France to remain a staunch an important ally also in the future.

Question: Yurii Onyshchenko, Army Inform from Ukraine, Secretary General, the media recently reported that NATO looks to create a new special envoy post in Ukraine. Will this issue  be discussed by the Minister.

NATO Secretary General: I think well, NATO has some office in Kyiv in Ukraine already. I met with the people working there in Kyiv in April. So of course we will always adapt that presence that NATO in Ukraine. We'll continue to have a presence in Ukraine. And we continue to adapt the format of that civilian presence in Ukraine.

Question: Secretary General, Carla Babb with Voice of America. Will Ukraine have enough pilots trained on the F 16 By the end of summer? And should those F 16 be allowed to fire across into Russian territory or Russian Air Space once they have those F 16 in place?

NATO Secretary General: NATO Allies are working hard together with Ukraine to train pilots but also to train personnel to be able to sustain technical maintenance. All the types of personnel we need to ensure that we have the F 16 capability. This is more than pilots it's about all the support staff that is needed. They're working hard to do that as soon as possible. I will be careful giving any specific dates but this is a huge undertaking, a lot of effort has already been put into it. There are training facilities including in Romania. I met the Romanian President recently we in in Riga where this was addressed and rest assured that we are doing this as fast as as possible. But of course, this will not be operational until it's safe and secured. Then different Allies have different types of restrictions on the use of their weapons. But I will have to, but I welcome that Allies have reduced or loosened their restrictions on the use of weapons also against military targets inside Russia, because we need to understand what this is. This is war or aggression. Russia has attacked Ukraine. and that's a blatant violation of international law. According to international law, Ukraine has the right to self defense and the right of self defense includes also striking legitimate military targets on the territory of the aggressor, Russia. If they were not able to do so, then we would actually ask them to try to defend themselves, uphold the right of self defense with one hand tied on their back. Self Defense is not escalation. Self Defense is a right enshrined in the UN Charter. And we have the right to help Ukraine uphold the right. And by doing that, and NATO Allies don't become party to the conflict. And this is even more obvious now because until now, most of the fighting has taken place deep into Ukrainian territory. But now actually, Russia opened a new front they opened the front in the north in Kharkiv where they're attacking Kharkiv, directly from Russian territory just over the border. The border and the frontline is more or less the same. And of course, if the Russian forces, the artillery, the missile batteries were safe, as soon as they were on the Russian side of the border, it would become extremely difficult for Ukrainians to defend themselves. So so I'm not going to every operational aspect of this, but I want to say that Ukraine has the right to strike military targets on Russian territory, part of the right for self defense, and we have the right to support them in defending themselves.