Press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel

  • 27 Apr. 2023 -
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  • Mis à jour le: 27 Apr. 2023 18:09

(As delivered)

Prime Minister Bettel,
Dear Xavier,

It’s great to have you here, welcome and it is good to see you again.
It is a pleasure to meet you and Luxembourg is a highly valued NATO Ally and a long history of stepping up to support NATO Allies and NATO missions and operations.

You contribute to NATO’s multinational battlegroup in Romania, helping to deter aggression.

You are also at the forefront of NATO’s innovation agenda.
Leading our work on space surveillance and investing in critical satellite capabilities.

And Luxembourg also provides important financial, humanitarian and military support to Ukraine.

I also welcome Luxembourg’s strong support for NATO’s climate change and security agenda.

So, Prime Minister, we just discussed Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine.

Last week I visited Kyiv.

My message is clear – NATO stands with Ukraine for as long as it takes.

So we must stay the course and continue to provide Ukraine with what it needs to prevail.

I thank Luxembourg for your generous contributions to NATO’s Ukraine fund.

This is providing urgent support, including medical supplies, mobile satellite systems and pontoon bridges. 

Overall, through the Contact Group led by the United States, NATO Allies and partners have provided unprecedented support to Ukraine.

More than 98 percent of the combat vehicles promised to Ukraine have already been delivered.

That means over 1,550 armoured vehicles, 230 tanks and other equipment, including vast amounts of ammunition.

In total we have trained and equipped more than nine new Ukrainian armoured brigades, this will put Ukraine in a strong position to continue to retake occupied territory.

At the Vilnius Summit, NATO plans to step up for Ukraine with a multi-year programme of support.
We will also continue to strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defence.
And we will address burden-sharing.

Because in a more dangerous world, we must invest more, and better, in our defence.

I welcome Luxembourg’s investments in major equipment and multinational capabilities, such as NATO’s new fleet of tanker transport aircraft.

I also welcome that you have increased defence spending, but I encourage you to continue to step up defence spending.
This is key for a fair burden-sharing between North America and Europe.

So, Prime Minister, thank you for our excellent discussions.
And for Luxembourg’s valuable contributions to our Alliance.

So, please you have the floor.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: Time for one or two questions. Reuters.

Andrew Gray (Reuters): Andrew Gray from Reuters. Quick question just in case, Secretary General, you have any information on a military object that was found in a forest in northern Poland, so obviously NATO territory. I wonder if you've heard any initial reports about the cause of that.
And then more broadly, for both of you, do you believe that Allies have done everything possible to give Ukraine a chance of success in its coming expected counter-offensive? And in particular on ammunition: Have Allies dug deeply enough into their stocks as you would wish them to?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Allies have provided unprecedented military support to Ukraine, both equipment [and] weapon systems, but also vast amounts of ammunitions. And we continue to do so. We have delivered modern air defence systems, advanced digital systems, the United States have delivered HIMARS, and now we have also delivered a big number of armoured vehicles, including battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other types of combat vehicles. So in total this gives the Ukrainians nine brigades which now are well-trained, well-equipped and well-manned. And this is what provides them with the military support and the capabilities they need to retake more territory.
Then, of course, we should never underestimate Russia. Because what the Russian forces lack in quality, they try to make up in quantity. And we see that Russia continues to mobilise more personnel. We have seen around Bakhmut how they are willing to send in thousands and thousands of troops with very high casualty rates. But of course, it continues to challenge also the Ukrainian troops.
We have made it clear that we will continue to support, we will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes. And at the Vilnius Summit, I also expect Allies to agree a multi-year program. We will work on how to help Ukraine move from Soviet standards, equipment doctrines, to NATO standards and doctrines, and to ensure full interoperability with NATO. So we will continue, and we met just last week and discussed at Ramstein specific requirements for how to continue to provide military support to Ukraine.

Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel [interpreted from French]: On equipment, we don’t have a lot of storage. We don't have a basement or an attic, if you will. So this is why we gave a financial contribution instead. And we gave Ukrainians the choice of what they needed, and so they ordered and we footed the bill.

Associated Press: I have a question for both of you. Mark from Associated Press. President Xi and President Zelenskyy the recently spoke on the phone. Do either of you want to see China mediating peace talks?

Secretary General Stoltenberg: It is for Ukraine to decide what are the conditions for talks and what formats any talks should have. What we know is that any likelihood, any possibility for meaningful negotiations requires that Ukraine has the necessary military strength to send a very clear message to President Putin that he will not win on the battlefield. So maybe this war will end at the negotiating table. But what we know is that what happens around the negotiating table is inextricably linked to the strength on the battlefield. So if we want a peaceful negotiated solution, where Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent nation, the best way of getting there is to provide military support for Ukraine exactly as NATO Allies are doing.
I welcome the call between President Zelenskyy and President Xi. I think is important also that China gets a better understanding of the Ukrainian perspectives. This doesn't change the fact that China has not been able to condemn Russia's illegal war, illegal invasion of Ukraine, and NATO Allies have expressed strong support to President Zelenskyy’s peace plan, which includes, of course, full respect for Ukraine's territorial integrity.

Prime Minister Bettel [interpreted from French]: I think that the phone call that took place yesterday is the first step. I think it's going in the right direction. It's all about dialogue between Ukraine and a world power. We know that China is a key player. Sometimes it's not that easy to have dialogue with China, but it's important, and I think that the biggest mistake that we could make is to push China closer to Moscow. So the phone call that was completed yesterday, between them is key in my opinion. I said it earlier, I said it previously: I think that China could play a role, knowing that there's only one aggressor nation and one nation that was aggressed.
I've said it before: I think that between the US and China, are two key world players, there should be an exchange to discuss the situation. So maybe not as President Biden and President Xi Jinping to have an exchange, maybe offer something. If we're not if we're not able to get to that level, at least at foreign minister level or a different level. But I think having China involved in this could be useful, and I think that Putin will probably listen to Xi Jinping more than anybody else. And I understand how key the US is in this exchange, and I think that these two powers around the table would be a step in the right direction.
But I think this first exchange was an important one, and I hope it's not a one off. I hope that they plan on talking more, having more exchanges, you know, having a diplomatic representation, and so on. And I think that intensifying their relations, enhancing their relations, is a positive step forward, and we have to support them on that.

NATO Spokesperson Lungescu: Thank you.