by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union with Defence Ministers
I'm looking forward to meet the EU Defence Ministers.
We meet at a critical time for our security.
Russia's war of aggression grinds on against Ukraine.
And over the last weeks and months, we have seen fierce fighting in and around Bakhmut, and what we see is that Russia is storming in more troops, more forces and what Russia lacks in quality, they try to make up in quantity.
They have suffered big losses, but at the same time, we cannot rule out that Bakhmut may eventually fall in the coming days.
Therefore, it is also important to highlight that this does not necessarily reflect any turning point of the war and it just highlights that we should not underestimate Russia.
We must continue to provide support to Ukraine and NATO Allies have over the last year supported Ukraine with military and financial and economic support worth around close to 150 billion euros out of which 65 billion euros is military support.
This is particularly important to ramp up production of ammunition.
This is an issue that NATO Allies have addressed for some time. And we are now going to agree new guidelines, new requirements for stockpiles of ammunition, ensuring that we both can replenish our own stockpiles, but also to continue to provide support to Ukraine. And NATO Allies have signed contracts and I welcome that they have signed contracts with the defence industry to ramp up production given the long term demand signals and several NATO Allies have also gone into joint projects or procurement of different types of ammunition but also warehousing for ammunition.
I look forward to meeting EU defence ministers to discuss this issue and all the challenges we face together.
And what we've seen throughout the war in Ukraine is how NATO and the European Union stand together, complement each other and work together to protect our values.
Question: Secretary General, there have been reports that a pro Ukrainian group attacked the Nord Stream pipelines last year. Can you confirm this? And what knowledge does NATO have in this respect?
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: So what we do know is that there was an attack against the Nord Stream pipelines, an act of sabotage, but we have not been able to determine who was behind. There are ongoing national investigations, and I think it is right to wait until those are finalized before we say anything more about who was behind. What we also know is that it demonstrates the importance of protecting our critical undersea infrastructure, because we have thousands of kilometers of gas pipelines, of an oil pipelines, of power grids, and also of course, all the internet cables. All of this infrastructure is critical for our societies. NATO has addressed this for many years, but after the attacks against the Nord Stream pipelines, we have stepped up. We have established the cell at the NATO headquarters to coordinate efforts among our NATO Allies, to share more information, to work with the private sector that will often own this infrastructure and to do more to minimize the risk and increase the protection of critical undersea infrastructure.
Question: coming back to the news, Mr. Stoltenberg, you yourself have repeatedly warned that Ukraine is running out of ammunition. Are you satisfied with the pace of EU countries and NATO countries in ramping up production capacities?
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: This is now a war of attrition, which is a battle of logistics. This is about, you know, getting the supplies, the ammunition, the fuel to the frontline, to the soldiers. This was clear all the last fall and that is the reason why NATO stepped up its efforts on working with the industry and ramping up production, and also why we started the work of developing new requirements for stockpiles, as part of that NATO defence planning process, our capability targets. Allies, NATO Allies have already signed contracts, which have enabled increased production. This is good, this is something I welcome but there is an enormous demand out there. The current rate of consumption compared to the current rate of production of ammunition is not sustainable. Therefore, we need to ramp up production. I welcome that the European Union is stepping up and NATO Allies are stepping up. We already have joint projects among NATO Allies to provide both more ammunition for artillery, more ammunition for air defence systems, and also better infrastructure, warehousing for the ammunition. So this is something we are working on. We have seen important steps already been taken but we need to do more, because we need to ensure that Ukraine gets the ammunition it needs to defend itself against Russia's war aggression. And we need to replenish our own stocks because so far, our support to Ukraine has mainly come from depleting NATO stocks. Of course, in the long run, that is not sustainable. That is the reason why we only started to work on ramping up production.
Question: From the new round of talks, among Türkiye, Finland and Sweden this Thursday, will there be any breakthrough or will nothing happened until the elections in Türkiye? Thank you.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: First of all, we need to remember that all NATO Allies, also Türkiye, made an historic decision at the NATO Summit last June, last year, when they all agreed to invite Finland and Sweden to become NATO Allies. Since then, we have integrated Finland and Sweden into NATO civilian and military structures. Sweden and Finland have a totally different status, being now more and more close to NATO. Several NATO Allies also provided security assurances to Finland and Sweden. NATO has increased its presence in this region. Altogether this means that it is inconceivable that there will be any military threat against Finland and Sweden without NATO reacting. So, Finland and Sweden are in a much safer, much better position now than before they applied. That is good for Finland and Sweden, but it is also good for NATO. Second, I met with President Erdoğan a couple of weeks ago. That was a good meeting. I was there to express my condolences after the earthquake but also to discuss how NATO could provide support to Türkiye after the earthquake. We also discussed the way forward on membership and we are making progress. President Erdoğan agreed to restart the talks and to have a meeting with Finland, Sweden and Türkiye at NATO Headquarters, tomorrow. That in itself is an important thing after a long period without any talks. This is a process and I don't expect the process to be concluded tomorrow, but I am confident that Finland Sweden will become NATO Allies. This is a top priority. We are going to continue to integrate Finland Sweden into our Alliance. Thank you.