by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Heritage Foundation followed by audience Q&A

  • 31 Jan. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 31 Jan. 2024 22:23

(As delivered)

Thank you Dr. Roberts,
dear Kevin,
Good morning all.
It is great to be back in Washington.
And a pleasure to speak at the Heritage Foundation.

You seek to advance the interests of American citizens.
And stand up for ideas that strengthen America,
and the fundamental values that underpin this great democratic nation.
Freedom, opportunity and prosperity.

Today, these values are under attack by malign foreign actors seeking to undermine them.
They are threatening our free world.
They are openly contesting American power.
And not just America.

They are trying to trample over the global rules that keep us all safe.
These are dangerous times.

China is modernising its military and developing new weapons,
without any transparency or any limitation.
It is trading unfairly.
Buying up critical infrastructure.
Bullying its neighbours – not least Taiwan.
And seeking to dominate the South China Sea.

While China is the most serious long-term challenge,
Russia is the most immediate one.
Putin has brought war back to Europe, on a scale not seen since the Second World War.
And is developing new strategic weapons to threaten the United States and its Allies.

His war is not just about controlling Ukraine.
It is about re-establishing Russia’s sphere of influence.
And shaping alternative world order.

Where U.S. power is diminished.
NATO is divided. 
And smaller democracies are forced to kneel. 

Other authoritarian regimes in Iran and North Korea are also expanding their aggressive behaviour.
Tehran is backing terrorists and militias that are attacking ships in the Red Sea.
And American military bases in the Middle East.
Just this week we saw the tragic consequences of the attack in Jordan.

Pyongyang continues to test missiles that could reach South Korea and Japan.
As well as the United States.

China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea are increasingly aligned.
Together, they subvert sanctions and pressure.
Weaken the US dollar-based international financial system. 
Fuel Russian war in Europe.
And exploit challenges to our societies,
such as terrorism, disruptive technologies, or migration. 

In these dangerous times, we must stand strong against any regime that seeks to undermine us.

To do so, we must do three things.

First, we must ensure robust deterrence.
Not to start wars.
But to prevent them.
And preserve peace.

Any sign of wavering or weakness on our part will invite challenges from those who wish us harm.

That is why NATO has implemented the most robust collective defence since the Cold War.
We have more forces at higher readiness.
And more capabilities to protect our people,
and our territory.

We need to remain decisive and strong in our support to Ukraine.
Make no mistake: that is where we are being tested right now.

Ukraine must prevail.
And it can.
But it needs our continued help.

And let me recognise the leading role of the United States in supporting Ukraine.
Not least in providing essential military aid.

At the same time, we should acknowledge that European Allies and Canada also provide significant support to Ukraine, what they support, what they provide, in terms of military, financial, and humanitarian aid actually exceeds what the U.S. is providing.

Since the outbreak of the war, the United States has provided around 75 billion U.S. dollars.
Other Allies and partners have provided over 100 billion dollars.
And measured as share of GDP,
most Allies provide more than the United States.
In addition, Europe Allies host six million Ukrainian refugees.
European Allies were the first to provide tanks and long-range missiles to Ukraine.
The first to provide fighter aircraft.
And the first to train thousands of Ukrainian soldiers.

Supporting Ukraine is not charity.
It is an investment in our own security.

The United States has spent a small fraction of its annual military budget to aid Ukraine.
With that, Ukraine has managed to destroy a substantial part of Russia’s combat capacity.

And again, supporting Ukraine is in America’s own interest. 
If we cannot stop Russia’s cycle of aggression in Europe, others will learn the lesson that using force against America’s interests works.
The price for our security will go up.
China is watching closely.
And supporting Putin.
Let’s remember, China and Russia are partners.
Putin and Xi have signed an agreement of ‘limitless partnership’.

Beijing has failed to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It continues to spread Russian lies,
and to prop up the Russian economy.

It is Ukraine today.
Taiwan could be tomorrow.

This brings me to my second point
We must organise ourselves for enduring competition with China.

The U.S. has been doing this for some time.
You shifted your policy on China in 2017, under President Trump.
And since then, NATO has gone a long way in helping European Allies fully appreciate the challenges posed by China.
And respond to it.

It is clear that we must eliminate harmful dependencies on critical Chinese raw materials and products.
Europe made the mistake to rely on Russian oil and gas.
We cannot repeat that same mistake with China.
Dependencies make us vulnerable.

That is why we need to protect our critical infrastructure, strategic materials and supply chains.
We must not lose control of our ports, railways, and telecommunications – like 5G.
And we must not export technology that can be used against us.

Managing the China challenge is not something the U.S. can do alone.

And you don’t have to.

Through NATO, the U.S. has the support of 31 Allies and a vast network of partners.
Especially in the Indo-Pacific.

NATO is working more closely than ever with Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
We are making our forces more interoperable.
So they can work seamlessly together.
And we cooperate on issues of shared interest.
Including China.

Together, we are much stronger.

Now to my third and final point.
We must invest in our defence.
NATO will remain central to this effort.

Over many years, the United States has criticised NATO Allies for not spending enough on defence.
Rightly so.
And I commend the U.S. leadership on this important issue.
But things have changed.

All Allies have increased defence investments.
Adding an additional 450 billion dollars.
NATO Allies have committed to spending at least 2% of their GDP on defence.
And many are exceeding that target already.
For example, this year Poland will spend more than 4%.
No other Ally spends more.

With more money, we are boosting our defence industry.

NATO creates a market for defence sales.

Over the last two years, NATO Allies have agreed to purchase 120 billion dollars’ worth of weapons from U.S. defence companies.   
Including thousands of missiles to the U.K, Finland and Lithuania,
Hundreds of Abrams tanks to Poland and Romania,
And hundreds of F-35 aircraft across many European Allied nations – a total of 600 by 2030.
From Arizona to Virginia, Florida to Washington state,
American jobs depend on American sales to defence markets in Europe and Canada.

What you produce keeps people safe.
What Allies buy keeps American businesses strong.
So NATO is a good deal for the United States.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Heritage Foundation stands for the power of ideas that keep America strong.
NATO is an incredibly powerful idea.
That advances U.S. interests.
And multiplies America’s power.

The U.S. alone represents a quarter of the world economy.
But together, with NATO Allies,
we represent half of the world’s economic might.
And half of the world’s military might.

Together, we have world-class militaries,
vast intelligence networks,
more defence spending,
and unique diplomatic leverage.

More than an idea, NATO is a strong Alliance.
Getting stronger, and bigger.
With new Allies – Finland, and soon Sweden.
And more partnerships around the world.

Through NATO, the U.S. has more friends and allies than any other power.
China and Russia has nothing like NATO.
It is why they always try to undermine our unity.

In times of growing competition and rivalry.
NATO makes the U.S. stronger.
And all of us safer.

This year, we will celebrate NATO’s 75th anniversary.
With a Summit here in Washington in July.
It will be an opportunity to send a powerful message of unity and resolve in this challenging century.

Thank you so much.


NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg answers audience questions at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C.

Victoria Coates, Vice President, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy

Thank you, Mr Secretary General for a very compelling and engaging address, I look forward to following up on some of these topics with you, and welcome everyone to the Heritage Foundation.

I am going to revert to one of my favourite habits, which is to tell a story about Donald Rumsfeld. And there's always a Rumsfeld story for any topic and I know them. But he was of course, Ambassador to NATO in 1974. And it was an interesting choice for him because Nixon had just won this massive re-election and the decision was made for him to become NATO Ambassador and the Washington Post published an article saying Rumsfeld is the dumbest man in Washington - why would you leave the centre of the universe and go off to Brussels? But he did. This was ‘73 actually. And then, over the summer of ‘74, he had a very interesting experience with the Alliance as Watergate was breaking out here in Washington, and the Nixon presidency descended into a paralysis. And the Washington Post published an article saying Rumsfeld’s the smartest man in Washington, he got out.

But what he experienced and what he talked about a great deal in terms of his interest in and value for NATO was the crisis in NATO in the summer of ‘74. When he was basically cut off from DC because everybody was focused internally on protecting the Nixon presidency. But in Europe, we had a massive crisis between Turkey and Greece, resulting in Greece withdrawing from the NATO command structure and then Secretary General Luns basically pleaded with Rumsfeld to go back to DC and come up with some kind of resolution to this crisis. And what he knew is if he went back to Washington, no one would talk to him about anything but Watergate. So he stayed engaged in Brussels and always spoke very admiringly about how the Alliance functioned through that crisis, and kept it from coming off the rails during a very dangerous time in the Cold War, when a crisis in NATO would have been particularly disruptive.

So my first question to you is, you know, with 75 years of this Alliance, what was forged in the, you know, sort of the ashes of World War Two has emerged as one of the most powerful alliances in history. Is there any accomplishment that you would point to, like that summer of ‘74 accomplishment? That is not fully appreciated?

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General

First of all, I think actually NATO is quite well appreciated. And more appreciated now than just a few years ago, because with a full-fledged war going on in Europe, with China becoming stronger and stronger, I think more and more Allies realise the value of standing together. It's as simple as that. When we are together, we are stronger and safer, all of us. And that applies for Europe, but it also applies for the United States and Canada, for North America. So, and I feel, and also when you look at your opinion polls, there is actually strong support for NATO, across Europe and in the United States. So of course, there are things that are not as appreciated as they should, but in general I feel welcomed all over the Alliance. And we see it also reflected in the fact that Allies are investing more in defence.

But on that story from 1974 and the crisis caused by the crisis in Cyprus, I think it demonstrates why NATO is the most successful alliance in history. And NATO is the most successful alliance in history for two reasons. One is that we have been able to change when the world changes. For 40 years, we deterred the Soviet Union, and then suddenly the Soviet Union was no longer there. And people said NATO has to go out of business or out of area and we went out of area and helped to end two brutal ethnic wars in the Balkans. In Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Serbia or Kosovo. And then after 9/11, NATO did something no one envisaged we were going to do and that was to be on the front line fighting terrorism and helping United States. And then after 2014 NATO has adapted again with more focus on collective defence in Europe, the strongest reinforcement of our collective defence. So the first reason why NATO is a success is that we are changing and we will continue to change. The other reason why NATO is a success is that despite our differences, we are able to agree around the core task of NATO and that is to protect all Allies. Because we are now soon 32 Allies from both sides of the Atlantic with different history, different geography, different political parties in power. And it changes and we disagree on many issues and we have…You know NATO was founded in ‘49. And then we had the Suez Crisis in ‘56. We had in ‘67, we had France asking NATO to leave, our headquarters were in Paris, and we had to move to Brussels. Of course, that was a crisis. And then we had ‘74 and we had the Iraq War and we had many differences. And we'll have them in the future too, I promise.

But despite all these differences, we have been able to deter every adversary and unite around the core task to protect each other. Because we realized that we are safer when we stand together. So that's in a way the key, realizing that we are different, we are still able to protect and defend each other, not to provoke a war but to prevent a war and preserve peace. And NATO has done that successfully for 75 years and will continue to do so as long as we adapt to a changing world and as long as we are united despite our differences.

 Victoria Coates, Vice President, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy

And I'm actually going to push back a little bit on that one. Because in 2022 deterrence did fail. And I think the, you know, the challenge we have to NATO going forward is, you know, why did that deterrence fail? I think to your point about winning the Cold War and it being a good thing that NATO did not go out of business after the Cold War, because Russia did not go out of business. And so that threat was still very much present. And is, as it turns out, gathering. You recently referred to the war in Ukraine as a battle of ammunition. And clearly, you know, we do have Allies who have their stocks running dangerously low and our ability to resupply is not what it should be.

What would be your views going forward into the next 25 years of NATO as we approach the centennial, about how we can build up that capacity in Europe in a way that is interoperable with the United States? So that we can present a greater deterrence for Russia for any further ambitions that Mr Putin may have? And how quickly do you think that capacity can be built up?

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General

It is extremely important to build up that capacity of our defence industries. But let me first briefly respond to what you said about deterrence failed. I think we have to be very precise, NATO's deterrence is about Article 5. And that applies for NATO Allies - that has never failed. Except there have been terrorist attacks, there have been cyber attacks, but there have not been any major military attacks against any NATO Ally. We will have cyber attacks, we may have terrorist attacks also in the future. But the core responsibility for NATO - to deter military attacks - that deterrence has not failed.

Ukraine is a partner but Ukraine is not covered by Article 5. So I think we should not confuse those two things, because then we are actually undermining the credibility of Article 5. Because if you said that Article 5 failed in ‘22, then we undermine the credibility of Article 5. Article 5 didn't fail in ‘22 when Russia invaded Ukraine because Article 5 and NATO's collective defence assurances does not apply for Ukraine - so therefore, it cannot fail. That doesn't make the invasion of Ukraine less serious but we should not confuse those two things.

Second, the war in Ukraine is more and more a war of attrition. And a war of attrition becomes a war of logistics. It's about producing the weapons, the ammunition the spare parts, the maintenance needed to sustain the war effort. And that demonstrates the need to produce ammunition because so far, we are mainly digging into our stocks to supply Ukraine. That cannot continue, that's not sustainable. So therefore, we started actually, quite early into the war to work with the defence industry, about how can we ramp up production? And it revealed some serious weaknesses, that our defence industry on both sides of the Atlantic doesn't have the capacity needed to sustain this type of war and even less big conflicts between peer enemies. So the bad news is that we have seen some serious gaps. The good news is that Allies are now addressing them and production is gradually going up. NATO is playing a key role in two, three ways. First, is that we are aggregating demand, we are ensuring that Allies - especially the small and medium sized Allies - are buying stuff together. This is helping to reduce the unit cost or the cost per produced unit. The economy of scale is utilised by bigger contracts and of course it increases the market power of those who are buying. So just two weeks ago, we had the some Allies agreeing to buy 1000 Patriot interceptors, so it's such a big investment that they are actually building a new factory to deliver those interceptors. In total, NATO Support and Procurement Agency, just over the last six months, has signed contracts worth $10 billion - partly to replenish NATO stocks, but partly also to enable Allies to continue to deliver support to Ukraine.

The other important role NATO is playing is that we are setting the capability targets to the NATO Defence Planning Process and we are setting the standards. And standards are extremely important, because we have to ensure that weapons, ammunition is interoperable. This is partly about 155 ammunition but also you know that the different systems can talk to each other and communicate in a world of artificial intelligence and more and more advanced weapon systems. This has to be NATO standards. Because we cannot not have different sets of standards for the same Allies. And the good thing with that is that while having common standards we ensure interoperability, interchangeability, that we can work together on the battlefield, but also that we have an open defence market. And again, this is a huge advantage for the United States. I mentioned in my speech, 120 billion in sales to European Allies and Canada just over the last two years. And later on today, I'm going to Alabama to Pike County to Lockheed Martin there where they are producing Javelins. Jobs in the United States, support to Ukraine and paid by European Allies. So NATO is a good deal for the United States.

Victoria Coates, Vice President, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy

One thing I was struck by in your remarks is you raised one of my favourite topics, which is energy and I think that how energy and how we're going to fuel the future has become a national security issue is something we might not have talked about 20 years ago, but with the extraordinary demands on energy and requirements for energy, to fuel, modern life and to fuel modern warfare, I think we're just sort of beginning to focus on that in the early days of the invasion of Ukraine.

A gentleman that’s sometimes in the news here in Washington, Senator Manchin referred to the Ukraine war as an energy war, which it, which it largely is and I know in the summit in Vilnius last summer, where they have a NATO Energy Centre that this issue came up. As we move into this new phase and we have these new requirements, given the United States’ new role as one of the world's great energy producers, given how increased United States natural gas exports have been able to support Europe during the war. How do you see energy factoring into NATO strategy going forward?

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General

So energy and security is closely linked and the war in Ukraine demonstrated how vulnerable we are if we are too dependent on a commodity from an authoritarian power and this has been clearly communicated from the United States. And I remember for instance, President, then President Trump at different NATO summits clearly saying that we should not be dependent on Russian gas. While the challenge was that many Europeans said that well - when we buy gas from Europe or not it's a commercial issue, it's not a political issue. But the reality is to be so dependent on gas from Russia it's a political issue. It's about our security. All European Allies understand that now. Because actually, some months before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia started to use gas as a tool, as a weapon they weaponized energy to coerce NATO Allies to not support Ukraine. Then luckily, Allies - European Allies - decided to support Ukraine, but they paid a high price because the gas supplies from Russia was cut off.

The good news is that since then, European Allies have been able to divert their supplies from not least from the United States LNG, but also from the Middle East, liquefied natural, natural gas but also from Norway and some other countries that are now supplying more natural gas and energy to Europe. So in short, energy is about security. We need to prevent any dependencies. One of the challenges we see is that some of those new energies, which I think actually have an important role to play, like solar, the challenge is that a lot of the materials we need for the solar panels are coming from China. So of course, we should not replace one over-dependency on Russia with another on China. So we need to find ways to also not go into the same trap once again.

Victoria Coates, Vice President, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy

Now that's a critical issue and one of our key projects this year in the Davis Institute is a project called Chinese handcuffs, which is on precisely that topic that are we trading one dangerous dependency for another? And for the United States, if we walk into that trap, we would be giving up our ability to you know, surge energy to partners and allies of our own, from our own resources rather. And that gives me a convenient pivot point to my next question, which you also raised in your in your remarks, which is how we as NATO are going to confront China?

That this is becoming clear it is the generational challenge we will face. They are resolutely hostile, resolutely opposed to the kind of rules that we have laid out for everything from trade, to arms control, and, you know, shackling ourselves by rules that they won't follow, you know, it's not going to be a successful strategy. So even as we have to continue to confront Russia, and as you pointed out, in many ways, the Russian and Chinese problem sets are morphing into one. How can how can NATO become more, more flexible into the Pacific? And do you see an opportunity to either create a sister alliance amongst the Pacific nations you mentioned? Or how could we increase cooperation with them?

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General

This is extremely important because China is obviously the most challenging challenge we face. It's the biggest long term challenge NATO Allies faces and therefore, we need to address it. For decades NATO didn't address China at all. In the Strategic Concept we agreed, which is our basic paper, in a way which we agreed on this point in 2010. China is not mentioned with a single word. Then in 2019, we started and over the last years, NATO has really put China on the agenda because Allies now fully recognise that China is about our security. Again, the US has been showing leadership on this issue within the Alliance. NATO will remain a regional Alliance of North America and Europe. NATO will not become a global Alliance, but the North Atlantic region, North America and Europe. We face global threats and challenges and we have to address them.

That's not new. Cyber is global, space is global and terrorism is global. But of course we also as North America and Europe, we face the challenges that Russia represents. This is about the heavy investments in modernising their armed forces, it's about trying to control our infrastructure. This is in a way China coming closer to us. We see them in Africa, we see them in the Arctic, we see them trying to control our critical infrastructure. We had a very important discussion in Europe about 5G. In the beginning again many allies said this is a commercial issue. And we said no, no. 5G is partly commercial. It's also about our security. And actually, allies realised and saw the danger of being too dependent on Chinese suppliers of 5G networks. Then, just to highlight as you also said, the idea to distinguish that the challenge from the Russia and challenge from China that there's no meaning in that because China and Russia are more and more aligned.

What happens in Ukraine, matters for Asia and what happens in Asia matters for Europe. And when we see how Russia and China are coming closer and closer. Actually how Russia is more and more dependent on China, and is mortgaging its future to China. Then the idea that we can just address Russia without at the same time addressing China or vice versa, is meaningless. So we don't have the luxury of saying we will only talk about China or only talk about Russia. This is one part of the same challenge. They are partners without any limits. And therefore we think it is – the main thing we need to invest now in deterrence and defence we need to invest in technology - we need to work on resilience or critical infrastructure. All of this is relevant to address the challenge from China, and NATO Allies are doing that.

But we also need to work more closely with those Asia Pacific partners. I think there's a great potential for actually doing more. But this is an ongoing discussion within Allies. Again it will not become a global alliance but we need to work with the global partners about Asia Pacific

 Victoria Coates, Vice President, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy

Well, my last question, which both you and Dr Roberts touched on is, is defence spending and we have covered it but it gives me an opportunity to bring this back to Rumsfeld. So in the, in the interest of symmetry I will. Because another interesting aspect to his archives from the NATO period were cables he was writing home to then Secretary Kissinger about what he saw is a very dangerous culture of dependency that was growing in NATO in terms of reliance on American security for Europe. And of course, what they were grappling with then was the Vietnam War being a specific distraction for the US from, Europe. And he was, he was deeply concerned that the major - particularly the major - NATO Allies, were not investing sufficiently in defence.

And you know, we then have the situation where this summer we will mark not only the 75th anniversary of NATO's founding, but also the 10th anniversary of the Wales Summit, which established 2%. The 2% benchmark which everybody pledged but was not bound to reach. What tools do we have to accelerate progress toward that 2% mark? Because you might have read about it in the paper - we're going to have an election in November and in the event of a political change in the United States, I think this issue could become really quite acute. And so what will your message be going into the Washington Summit this summer, as Secretary General, to encourage additional progress?

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General

First of all, it is extremely important that European Allies and Canada are investing more in defence and the very clear message from the United States and also the very clear message from President Trump back when he was President from 2017 to ‘21 has had an impact. So things are now changing. Because you have to remember that when you made the pledge a few years ago at the base, at the summit in Wales to spend 2% of GDP on defence, only three Allies, the United States, the United Kingdom and Greece spent 2% or more.

This year, we don't have the final figures, but this year, we expect at least half of the Allies to meet the 2% target. That's not good enough, but it's enormously much better than when we made the pledge. And also our Allies who are not yet at 2%, they are coming very close, most of them. And all have a plan in place to reach 2%. So that's a total different world than where we were just a few years ago.

Second I think that this is partly about spending more, but it's also about realising that we need to spend together because that's a great advantage we have compared to any other major power is that we can get so much out of our investments when we do it together as we do as an Alliance. So I'm actually quite optimistic when it comes to NATO Allies delivering and that's my main message to United States. That European Allies have understood the seriousness and European Allies are investing more.

Victoria Coates, Vice President, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy

Well, I think we can open it up to some audience questions now. How does this work Catherine?

Audience question 1

Thank you very much. I'm the defence attaché of Poland here in DC. I represent the Ministry of Defence in the Embassy of Poland. First of all, I'd like to express my admiration for your leadership and the things you have done over the past year for the whole NATO and my question pertains regional plans. We know that the last summer the Allied heads of states and the governments approved the regional plans. So for the first time in our history, we have plans - actually a family of plans - that fit the purpose of the regional defence of the Euro Atlantic area and my question is about executability of these plans. What is your assessment on that? It pertains mostly the member states to field these plans with the capabilities but I believe you have some things to share, how long it might take? Thank you very much.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General

Well, these plans are extremely important, we agreed them last year. We are able to execute our plans. But of course, the more forces the more capabilities we have, there is less and less risk. And the good news is that again because Allies are spending more, they are also now delivering the forces, setting up the forces and, and establishing the readiness we need to reduce the risks we face. So these are ambitious plans. And we are delivering on them.

Audience question 2

My question is what is NATO’s strategy to defeat Russia - if that is your strategy? And please define defeat - other than as long as it takes.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General

But I have to understand. You mean when it comes to NATO territory? Our strategy is to deter Russia from attacking us. And that has been a successful strategy for 75 years. But maybe you asked about Ukraine? Yeah, okay. That's again, that's important but that's a different issue, and we must not mix those two.

When it comes to Ukraine the strategy is to ensure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign independent nation and that Putin realises that the cost of trying to control Ukraine is too high. This is partly about liberating territory and we have to recognise or acknowledge that Ukrainians have liberated roughly half the territory that Russia occupied at the beginning of the war. Of course, you would have liked to see more territory liberated. We would have liked to see the offensive that was launched last year to yield more gains, but we need to remember where this whole thing started. At the beginning of the war, most experts believe that Ukraine will be controlled by Russia within weeks and Kyiv within days - that didn't happen. And the Ukrainians have been able to liberate roughly half of the territory.

In addition to that Ukrainians have also been able to open a corridor in the Black Sea to push back their Russian Black Sea fleet, which is actually a huge achievement. And they are now able to export grain and other commodities out of the Black Sea. And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, they are constantly inflicting heavy losses on the Russian armed forces. Russia has lost more than 300,000 as casualties, thousands of armoured vehicles, half of their battle tanks or perhaps even more, and hundreds of aircraft. So Russia is paying a high price because of the Ukrainians’ determination and courage and because of our military support.

Wars are by nature unpredictable and I can never, no one can tell you exactly how this war ends. But what I can tell you is that the likelihood for end to this war where Ukraine prevails, increases the more support we give them. And therefore I welcome that European Allies have been pushing and also of course the support that the United States has provided since the beginning of this war. Because as long as Putin believes that he can win on the battlefield he will continue. When he realises that the price he is paying on the battlefield is too high, and that he will not win in the battlefield, he will have to sit down and recognise, agree, negotiate some kind of agreement, where Ukraine continues to be a sovereign independent democratic nation in Europe. So the strategy is to inflict so high costs on Russia, that they accept that they will not control Ukraine.

Victoria Coates, Vice President, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy

Well, Mr Secretary General, thank you very much, we are at time and I know you have a very busy schedule. A little bit of housekeeping. If everyone could remain seated until the NATO party has left the auditorium that would be great. I would like to echo my Polish friend’s thanks for your service to NATO and have fun out in America.