Doorstep statement

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Bucharest, Romania

  • 29 Nov. 2022 -
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  • Last updated: 29 Nov. 2022 12:41

(As delivered)

Good afternoon. 

Thank you Romania for hosting this foreign ministerial meeting in Bucharest today and tomorrow. 

Romania is a committed and highly valued NATO Ally. And we meet when war is raging in Ukraine, a neighbour to Romania. So the foreign ministerial meeting will be a very timely and important meeting. 

What we have seen since President Putin's brutal invasion of Ukraine is that President Putin is failing in Ukraine. He is responding with more brutality, attacking gas infrastructure, power lines, and trying to deprive the Ukrainians of water, electricity, lights and heating. 

Therefore, we need to support Ukraine because what we see is that President Putin is trying to use winter as a weapon of war, which is inflicting a lot of suffering on the Ukrainian people. 

NATO Allies are providing unprecedented support to Ukraine, and they will continue to provide unprecedented support to Ukraine, including by helping them to rebuild their gas and power infrastructure, of course also continue to deliver air defense systems.

We will meet with the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Kuleba, tonight. We will also meet tomorrow with the foreign ministers of our close partners Georgia, Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina, expressing our support to them. And then we will also address our resilience of our critical infrastructure and the challenges that China is imposing to our security, to our values, and to our economy. 

So this will be a very substantive foreign ministerial meeting and once again, many thanks to Romania for hosting all of us here in this magnificent place.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: Agence France Press.

AFP:  Secretary General, thanks a lot. You mentioned the fact that Putin is using winter as a weapon of war. But aren't NATO and G7 Allies moving too slowly and in to small a scale to help Ukraine rebuild and mend its energy infrastructure, that's been damaged by the Russian strikes?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:  NATO Allies and NATO has already delivered critical supplies to Ukraine to help them mitigate the consequences of the brutal attacks against critical infrastructure, including gas and power infrastructure. We have delivered generators, we have delivered spare parts and Allies are in different ways helping to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure. And we need to realize that there are enormous effects of the attacks. The Ukrainians are able to shoot down many of the incoming missiles and drones, but not all of them. And therefore, these attacks have caused significant damage. I think we all have seen these pictures taken from satellites, where you see Europe in light, and then you see Ukraine dark, and that reflects the enormous consequences. So there's a huge task to rebuild all of this. One of the important reasons why this meeting today is so important and timely, is that this provides us with the platform to mobilize further support to step up even more, and also for Minister Kuleba to meet all his colleagues in NATO and then to address those urgent needs. And I'm confident that Minister Kuleba will raise also the need for stepping up further when it comes to rebuilding their power infrastructure.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: Bloomberg. Bloomberg, over here.

Antenna 3, CNN Romania: Ok, hello. My name is Corina Matlinschi from Antena 3 CNN Romania. How will NATO implement the Strategic Concept about the Black Sea? Will you take decisions, what decisions? What will it mean for Romania?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: NATO has already made important decisions when it comes to our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance, including in Romania and the Black Sea region. After the invasion of Ukraine, we doubled the number of battlegroups, including with one here in Romania, led by France. We have increased our presence on the ground, we have more presence in the air. We just conducted a big air defence exercise over Romania with Spanish, Turkish, American jets, but also with French jets flying out of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. So fundamentally what we are doing is partly to increase our forward presence, partly we are stepping up how much prepositioned equipment and supplies we have and then we are increasing the readiness of our forces, so they can quickly be sent or reinforce our presence. For instance, in the Black Sea region, if needed.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: ICTV Ukraine. Please go ahead. We can hear you now, since you have started. Please go ahead, thank you.

ICTV Ukraine : Veronika Boiko, ICTV Ukraine. Thank you, Veronika Boiko, ICT Ukraine. As you know Russia is massively bombing Ukranian critical infrastructure. And 97% of Russian bombs hit Ukrainian civil infrastructure. Millions of Ukrainians are now without power, heating, water, and every day of delayed support causes more suffering. So what practical results can Ukrainian expect for this meeting? Maybe more air defence systems, weapons?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: It is painful to see the destruction of that the air and missiles attacks by Russia are causing on Ukrainians, on Ukrainian cities, on critical infrastructure. And that's also the reason why Allies have stepped up. But also I expect that here in Bucharest, at the foreign ministerial meeting, the message from all Allies will be that we need to do more. Both to help Ukraine repair the destroyed critical infrastructure, including the power and gas grid, but also, to of course address the attacks itself, by providing more air defence systems. This is partly providing more air defence weapons systems, but also of course to ensuring that those systems that we have already provided - and many of them are actually a modern, NATO standard air defence system, including NASAMS and others,  that they are functioning. Meaning that we need to provide spare parts and we need to provide ammunition. So this is not only about adding more weapons, but also assuring that the weapons that have already been provided by NATO Allies can be used to shoot down incoming Russian missiles and drones.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: Bloomberg

Bloomberg: Secretary General, yesterday you mentioned that we might expect more attacks on critical infrastructure in Ukraine. How many more attacks can we expect, given that Russia’s stockpiles are running low?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:  We can expect more attacks because President Putin is failing.  Fundamentally, the fact that they have to give up ground, that Russia has been pushed out of the territories around Kyiv, in the East around Kharkiv, and then in the in the South. That had to give up Kherson,  that's a sign of weakness. That's a sign that that Russia is actually failing on the battlefield. In response to that, they are now attacking civilian targets, cities, because they're not able to win territory and to and to avoid Ukraine slowly liberating more and more territory.  So yes, we can expect more attacks. I think no one can say exactly how many, but President Putin and Russia has demonstrated a willingness to inflict suffering and to a level of brutality that we haven't seen in Europe since the Second World War. We know that Russia is running low on ammunition. That's also the reason why they have reached out to, for instance, Iran, to try to get more. We are saying very clearly that no country should support Russia's illegal war. And therefore, Iran and no other country should provide Russia with missiles, drones or anything else that can help them to continue this brutal war of aggression against Ukraine.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: We’ll go to German television there, please.

German Television: In 2008, NATO declared here in Bucharest, that someday Ukraine would be a member of NATO. Where stands NATO now today, on behalf of this declaration?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: You are right that we made decisions on Ukraine, Georgia, on membership here at the NATO Summit in 2008. I was here myself at that time as Norwegian Prime Minister, so I remember that meeting very well. I first of all, I welcome that since then we have strengthened significantly our partnership with Georgia and with Ukraine. Something that has not least been demonstrated since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. And since then, NATO Allies have delivered a lot of support to Ukraine. And therefore also the Ukrainian Armed Forces were much stronger, much better equipped, much better led and much bigger, than they were in 2014. And that's very much because of the support they have received from NATO Allies over these years. And we were prepared, when the invasion happened in February and then Allies stepped up further now with unprecedented level of support to Ukraine. I expect that foreign ministers will at the meeting here in Bucharest today and tomorrow, reiterate that NATO’s door is open. And we have demonstrated that over the last years while allowing North Macedonia and Montenegro to become members and now also Finland and Sweden. So we have demonstrated that the decision in Bucharest that NATO’s door is open is something we live up to, not only in words, but also in deeds,  by actually allowing more members to come into the Alliance. On Ukrainian membership, we stated that Ukraine will become a member. I expect Allies to reiterate also that position.  However, the main focus now is on supporting Ukraine. We are in the midst of a war, and therefore we should do nothing that can undermine the unity of Allies to provide military, humanitarian, financial support to Ukraine, because we must prevent President Putin from winning and we need to ensure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign independent nation.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: We will go to Associated Press over here, please.

Associated Press: (inaudible) …invasion of Ukraine, and now faces critical energy issues, including recent blackouts with Russian strikes in Ukraine. Allies talk about supporting Moldova, but what concrete measures can NATO take and is taking to help the country from further destabilization?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Moldova is a partner of NATO.  And Moldova also receives support from NATO Allies individually, and from the European Union. And we see the brutality of this war not only for the Ukrainians, but also for people all around the world, caused by increased food prices. But in Moldova in particular, they have suffered, also because of the blackouts of their energy grid, which is a direct consequence of the war going on in Ukraine. So this is about stepping up practical support to Ukraine, to Moldova, and also sending a very clear message that this war must not escalate beyond Ukraine. And I had recently a meeting with the Moldovan President and I expressed my solidarity, and also the strong message from many NATO allies that are ready also to provide the practical support.

CGTN – Secretary General, Pablo Gutierrez with Feature Story News for CGTN.  My question is in relation to your statement about winter becoming a weapon for Russia. We have already seen mass exodus of Ukrainians over the last 10 months. Is there a concern that we will see a second, perhaps a greater wave of migration towards Europe? And what is NATO doing to support the people of the Ukraine in the event of a second wave of Ukrainian migration?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: We have seen millions of people being forced to flee Ukraine already. Many of them have crossed the border into Romania, close to 3 million. And that just demonstrates how timely and important it is that we meet here in Romania, border of Ukraine. And of course, we have to be prepared for more refugees crossing into the rest of Europe. This is a war. This is a brutal war. And there is a deliberate attack on critical services, heating, light, water, gas.  And of course the purpose of that is to inflict as much suffering as possible on Ukrainian civilians to try to break their commitment, their unity in standing up against the Russian invasion. I'm absolutely certain that President Putin will not succeed, that the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian armed forces,  the Ukrainian leadership will not bend. But we'll just mobilize even more in fighting back and, if anything, these brutal attacks against critical civilian infrastructure, it is only encouraging NATO Allies to do even more. Because we need to ensure that Russia doesn't win, because if President Putin wins this war, the message will be that when authoritarian leaders use brutal force, when they invade another country, when they violate international law, they can achieve their goals. That would be a tragedy for Ukraine, but it would also make the whole world more dangerous and also more vulnerable. Because the lesson learned for authoritarian leaders is that they can use force. So that's the reason why it is in our security interest to continue to support the Ukraine.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: Thank you very much, this concludes this press point. Thank you.