Joint press point

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine, Olga Stefanishyna

  • 10 Jan. 2022 -
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  • Last updated: 10 Jan. 2022 14:32

(As delivered)

Joint press point with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Olga Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine ahead of the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission

Deputy Prime Minister, dear Olga, welcome.

Welcome back to NATO Headquarters.

It’s always a great pleasure to meet with you and to have this opportunity to address the situation in and around Ukraine.

We just had a very good meeting and then we will continue later on with a meeting with all the 30 NATO allies in the NATO-Ukraine Commission later on today.

We just addressed the evolving situation in and around Ukraine.

Russia’s military build-up continues.
With tens of thousands of combat-ready troops, armed with heavy capabilities.

On Friday, NATO Foreign Ministers called again on Russia to remove its forces from Ukraine and from your borders.
Demonstrate transparency.
And de-escalate.
Any further aggression against Ukraine would come at a high political and economic price.

NATO Allies are united in their support for all nations to choose their own path.

This has been a fundamental principle of European security for decades.

Ukraine is a valued and long-standing partner to NATO.

And today’s meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission comes at the start of an important week for European security.
The United States and Russia are currently meeting in Geneva.
On Wednesday we will hold the NATO-Russia Council meeting here in Brussels.
And on Thursday, the OSCE will meet.  

Our meeting in the NATO-Ukraine Commission is a timely opportunity to exchange assessments on the situation.
To express Allies’ strong political and practical support to Ukraine.
And to coordinate ahead of diplomatic engagements with Russia.

I welcome that Russia has agreed to our offer to hold a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council later this week.
This is a positive signal.

We will focus on European security issues, transparency related to military activities, risk reduction and arms control.

We will listen to Russia’s concerns, but any meaningful dialogue must also address our concerns about Russia's actions.
And it must take place in consultation with Ukraine, as we are doing today.
We are also consulting closely with other partners, including Georgia, Moldova, Finland, Sweden, and the European Union.

So Deputy Prime Minister, thank you again for being here today.
I’m looking forward to our discussions with all 30 Allies in the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

So once again, welcome.

Oana Lungescu, NATO Spokesperson: 

We go to Interfax Ukraine.

Iryna Somer, Interfax News Agency:

Thank you Oana. Good morning.  Iryna Somer News Agencay Interfax Ukraine.

Secretary General! Political and practical support to Ukraine is very, very important, but don't you think that time has come - and as a part of deterrence NATO policy - to provide to Ukraine Membership Action Plan? Thank you.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General:

What we have stated very clearly is, first of all, that we continue to provide support to Ukraine. 

Political support for Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty, but also practical support with our comprehensive assistance package, with different trust funds, with different activities conducted by the NATO Office in Kiev, where we help to implement reforms, help to modernize Ukraine's armed forces. And I always encourage allies to step up and also provide more support within the NATO framework.

I, for instance, visited Odessa some time ago and then I saw how NATO helped to train and build the naval capabilities of Ukraine at the Naval Academy in Odessa. We also exercise together and we work together in many ways. 

On top of that, we also have many Allies providing bilateral support to Ukraine with training, with capacity, with different types of equipment. And I encourage and welcome the support NATO Allies provide bilaterally directly to Ukraine.

And this is, also of course, sending a clear message that Ukraine has the right to defend itself. That is an enshrined right in the UN Founding Treaty. And NATO helps Ukraine to uphold the right to defend itself.

On membership.

We have reiterated the decision we made at the Bucharest Summit in 2008 and we stand by that decision. We help Ukraine to move towards a NATO membership by implementing reforms, by meeting NATO standards.

And we have stated very clearly that we will never compromise on the right for every nation in Europe to choose its own path, including what kind of security arrangements it wants to be a part of. And therefore, it is fundamental that that principle is not violated in any way.

Meaning that it is for Ukraine and the 30 NATO Allies to decide when Ukraine is ready for membership. No one else has any right to say anything about that.

Oana Lungescu, NATO Spokesperson: 

Okay, we'll go to the National Agency of Ukraine.

Dmytro Shkurko, National News Agency Ukraine:

Dmytro Shkurko, National News agency of Ukraine. Secretary General it's understandable that today you will speak with Ukrainian partners about Russian so called Security proposals. But taking into account that all and each every NATO nation have a different history and even geography of relations with Russia, what is the results of our future and areas is appropriate for NATO and for you personally, just to keep the unity of the Alliance?

And if I may to Madame Stefanishyna. We, Ukraine [is] facing not only the military threat, but also a hybrid one. So that, as we saw in Kazakhstan recently, the internal unrest could be easily turned into the external military intervention. So that what is the Ukraine authority doing to prevent such development in Ukraine, and to prevent turning it into the failed state? Thank you.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General:

Okay, I hope I understood your question, but if it was about the future of the NATO Russia Council?

Dmytro Shkurko, National News Agency Ukraine:

Yes, what result is appropriate for you…

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General:

Well, fundamentally, I think what we see now in and around Ukraine, with a Russian military build-up, demonstrates the relevance and importance of NATO's dual track approach to Russia. That we need, of course, strong deterrence and defence, but you need to combine that with a meaningful dialogue.

And that's exactly what to do now. We are sitting down in Russia, we meet them here in Brussels in the NATO-Russia Council. NATO Allies meet them also in the OSCE. And of course, we have the United States meeting with Russia in Geneva.

These are important efforts to try to make sure to have a political solution that we prevent an armed conflict.

Therefore we are going into these talks in good faith, ready to address substance, and of course ready to listen to Russia's concerns.

I have negotiated with Russia before as a Norwegian Prime Minister and I know it's possible to make deals with Russia. And we also have seen that in the wider NATO context before on arms control and on other areas.

So therefore, we are working hard for a peaceful political path and we are ready to continue and to work with Russia to try to find that path towards a peaceful solution.

At the same time, we need to be prepared for that Russia once again chooses to use armed force, chooses confrontation instead of cooperation.

And therefore we also need to send a very clear message to Russia, that we are united, and that there will be severe costs, economic, political costs for Russia if they once again use military force against Ukraine.

We provide support to Ukraine helping them to uphold the right for self-defence. And, of course, NATO Allies, we are very clear on our commitment to protect and defend all NATO Allies.

I believe that the NATO-Russia Council is an important platform, an all-weather platform for consultations, for dialogue with Russia.  And especially when tensions are high, when we see threats and challenges as we see now, it's important that we have this institution, that we use it, and that we talk.

So I welcome the fact. It's a good sign, a positive sign that Russia now is willing to meet in the NATO-Russia council here in Brussels on Wednesday.

Olga Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration:

Thank you so much. I will start by saying that Ukraine is not Kazakhstan. Definitely.

And basically the best response of Ukraine is building the internal resilience by transformations.  We have opposite to the Kazakhstan. We have a vigorous civil society, expert community, and also a strong opposition.  And we have a very strong international unity over condemning the Russian aggression over territory of Ukraine. 

And we are not part of any post-Soviet structures, which would anyway in such case like Kazakhstan allow the external military intervention to its territory and capturing the critical infrastructure.

So basically, what we're doing as the reforming, fighting the Russian aggression in our territory, and preserving the international community together by condemning the illegal actions of the aggressor.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General:

Let me just add that, of course, I welcome the meeting that will take place later on this week on Wednesday in the NATO-Russia Council. I welcome the meeting that takes place in Geneva today between US and Russia, and the OSCE meeting later on this week.

But I don't think we can expect that these meetings will solve all the issues.

What we are hoping for is that we can agree on the way forward. That we can agree on a series of meetings. That we can agree on the process.

So it's not realistic to expect that when we have finished this week, when we have finished meetings that are all scheduled that the problems will be solved.

But I really hope that there is a real will on both sides. Including on the Russian side. It is on the NATO side. To engage in a process that can prevent new armed conflict in Europe.  And therefore we are aiming for an agreement on a way forward, a process, a series of meetings.

Oana Lungescu, NATO Spokesperson: 

Thank you very much. This concludes this press conference. Thank you.