Defence ministers address strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defence, support to Ukraine

  • 15 Feb. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 15 Feb. 2024 17:48

NATO Defence Ministers met on Thursday (15 February 2024) to address the Alliance’s deterrence and defence, as well as support to Ukraine.

Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Addressing the media following the meeting, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pointed to “historic progress” in increased defence investment. “By the end of 2024, European Allies and Canada will have added more than 600 billion dollars for defence since we made the Defence Investment Pledge,” he said, adding that he expects 18 Allies to spend 2% of their GDP on defence this year.

Minsters also discussed progress in ramping up ammunition production. The Secretary General made clear that there is a “need to shift from the slow pace of peacetime, to the high tempo production demanded by conflict,” in order to refill stocks and continue to support Ukraine. In the past months, NATO has agreed contracts worth $10 billion US dollars. “This helps Ukraine, makes NATO stronger, and provides more highly-skilled jobs in Europe and North America,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

Ministers also addressed the deteriorating security environment. The Secretary General confirmed that while “we do not see any imminent military threat against the Alliance, NATO continues to ensure there is no room for miscalculation in Moscow about our readiness to protect all Allies.” With Steadfast Defender 24, the largest NATO exercise in decades, currently ongoing, Allies are demonstrating capabilities and testing their ability to swiftly move forces across the Alliance to defend the eastern flank.

Finally, Allies held an exchange with Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov, who remotely joined a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council. Underlining the importance of continued support, Mr Stoltenberg welcomed recent announcements of support – including from Canada, Finland, and Norway – covering key capabilities like F-16 equipment and spare parts, as well as air defence. He further welcomed that a group of Allies is coming together with the goal of delivering one million drones to Ukraine, and that 20 NATO Allies have agreed to form a demining coalition for Ukraine.

At the meeting, Defence Ministers also decided to create a new NATO-Ukraine Joint Analysis, Training and Education Centre in Poland to share lessons learned from Russia’s war and create a structure for Ukrainian forces to learn and train alongside their Allied counterparts. “Together, NATO Allies account for 99% of all military aid to Ukraine and our continued commitment is essential to preserving Ukraine’s freedom,” Mr Stoltenberg concluded. “We will continue to stand with Ukraine, for Ukraine’s security, and for ours.”