Jens Stoltenberg

Press Conference Following NATO-Ukraine Commission Meeting

delivered 4 April 2023, NATO HQ, Brussels, Belgium

Audio mp3 of Address       Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Good evening,

We have just finished a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

This was also our first meeting with Finland as a full NATO member.

We addressed Russia’s brutal war of aggression, our support for Ukraine
and its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. The people of Ukraine continue to defend their country with skill and bravery. And we will continue to support them for as long as it takes. NATO Allies have delivered close to 150 billion euros of support, including 65 billion euros of military aid.

But there is no room for complacency. President Putin has not changed course in Ukraine. He thinks Russia can outlast our support.

Our meeting today underscored NATO’s enduring commitment to Ukraine. Allies are ramping up the production of weapons and ammunition and delivering on their pledges of training and new heavy weaponry.

The first Leopard and Challenger tanks are in Ukraine -- together with tanks and infantry fighting vehicles from several other Allies.

As agreed at the Madrid Summit, we have also stepped up urgent non-lethal support through NATO’s Ukraine fund[s]. This includes fuel, medical supplies, mobile satellite systems, and pontoon bridges.

I thank Allies that have made substantial contributions, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom; and partners such as Australia and Japan. I welcome that ministers have made more announcements today. And I expect more in the coming days and months.

Building on this, we will develop a multi-year support initiative for Ukraine: to help ensure Ukraine’s deterrence and defense; make the transition from Soviet-era equipment and doctrines to NATO standards; and increase interoperability with NATO. This demonstrates our long-term commitment to Ukraine and brings Ukraine closer to the Euro-Atlantic family.

Allies made clear that we remain committed to NATO’s Open Door policy.
We encourage Ukraine to continue on the path of reforms, even in difficult times. We discussed the importance of anti-corruption measures, the rule of law, and the rights of minorities.

A strong, independent Ukraine is vital for the stability of the Euro-Atlantic area, and we look forward to meeting President Zelenskyy at our Vilnius Summit in July. NATO will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. Ukraine’s future is in the Euro-Atlantic family.

And with that I'm ready to take your questions.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu: Okay, Bloomberg?

Natalia Drozdiak, Bloomberg: Natalia Drozdiak from Bloomberg. How much have Allies contributed to the fund for Ukraine's CAP [Comprehensive Assistance Package], and how much are you seeking, and why is this so important? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg: Well, as Allies are now stepping up, so I think we had to wait and see how big announcements they will make in total, but I'm quite optimistic that Allies now realize the importance of providing support also through the NATO Assistance Fund and also to have long term commitments. So by the Vilnius summit, I think we will have a substantial amount of money and also a...commitment to support for many years a multi-year program. So I -- I think I'll be careful going into this specific announcement. I think some Allies actually [will] tell you what they have announced in the meeting, but I will leave it to them to -- to announce the numbers they have announced in meetings today.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu: Iltalehti.

Iltalehti: Secretary General, [inaudible] from Finland, Iltalehti. Could you please describe what is the secret of Article V? Why can the Finns now on trust that if someone attacks on Finland, Allied troops will come and help Finland? And then, how Finland can provide more concrete security to NATO and make Article V even better? Thank you very much.

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg: NATO's core task is to prevent war, is to preserve peace, is to prevent conflict. And the way we do that is to make it absolutely clear that if any Ally is attacked, the whole Alliance will come and assist and support because we regard an attack on one Ally as an attack on all Allies, based on the principle "one for all, all for one," and this has preserved peace, prevented conflict throughout decades for NATO Allies and we will continue to do so by standing together because as long as any potential adversary knows that the whole Alliance will react -- that an attack on one will be regarded as an attack on all. Then there will be no military attack on NATO Allies. And of course when Finland now is a full member of NATO, then you're covered by this guarantee, which is a way to preserve peace, to prevent the conflict, to prevent armed attacks.

Finland will contribute substantially to this because Finland has substantial armed forces, high-end capabilities, including now more than 60 F-35 fighter jets, air defense systems, and highly trained, well equipped troops and also air and naval forces. So...this combined with your second-to-none experience, knowledge, expertise on resilience, strong democratic institutions, and of course also the fact that they are a capable defense industry, all of that contributes to the strength of NATO. And let me add that if you look at the map, we also realize that just the fact that Finland is located where it is, it's extremely important for the high North, for the Nordic countries, and for the Baltic countries, in addition to NATO as a whole.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu: Okay. Hromadske, Ukraine....

Anzhela Bubeliak, Hromadske Radio: Thank you. Hromadske Radio, [Ukraine] Anzhela Bubeliak. Ukraine, which is currently defend[ing] itself and all Europe in the bloody war against Russian aggression -- aggressor expect that NATO will extend an invitation for Ukraine to join the Alliance at the July summit in Vilnius? At what stage is this discussion within the Alliance? And I have the second question: Secretary General, do NATO countries plan to increase the supply of ammunition to Ukraine and needs and when?

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg: NATO Allies and partners are increasing the supply of ammunition to -- to Ukraine. We have done that actually for several weeks and months because -- not least through the US led contact group for Ukraine. We are in close consultations with Ukraine constantly. And Ukraine share with us their needs and it has been obvious for a long time that this has now become a war of attrition, which is a battle of logistics, meaning that there is a -- a constant need for more ammunition, more supplies, more enablers for the different capabilities that Ukraine has. And -- And therefore it has been a...big focus on the need to step up not only the supply of ammunition to Ukraine, but also the production. We [have] worked with the industry -- we are in close contact with the European Union and we are revising the NATO guidelines for battle-decisive ammunitions to ensure that Allies can replenish their stocks because so far, most of the ammunition that has been delivered to Ukraine has come from reducing our own stocks.

In the long run, that doesn't work. So now we're also ramping up production to replenish our own stocks and to continue to provide ammunition to -- to Ukraine, and of course, for Ukraine to launch offensive operations to...continue to retake territory, land, to -- to liberate more of the occupied land. Then, of course, Ukraine needs significant amounts of ammunition for their artillery systems, for the battle tanks, for the air defense systems, and for all the different weapon systems that Allies have provided. So this is -- this was an issue discussed today. It's an ongoing dialogue with -- with Ukraine.

Then, NATO's position on membership is unchanged. Ukraine will become a -- a member of the Alliance. This has been stated again and again at NATO summits. At the same time, we all realize that for -- to make any meaningful progress on this issue, the first step is to ensure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent nation. And that's the reason why NATO Allies and partners are providing [an] unprecedented level of support and will continue -- continue to do so, and why we are also in constant close contact with the Ukrainians, and also providing training; and Allies made those announcement[s] today about additional support to Ukraine to ensure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent state -- which is a precondition for any meaningful discussion about future membership.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu: Swedish Radio. Gentlemen there.

Jan Andersson, Swedish Radio: Jan Andersson, Swedish Radio. First, how many working hours, Secretary General, have you put in these talks between Sweden, Finland, and Turkey so far? And the second question, what's the next step? What kind of a breakthrough are you hoping for in the talks between Sweden and Turkey and Hungary, as well, so Sweden can be a member of NATO in Vilnius? It seems that you have a sort of a deadlock in these talks right now. Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg: Well, first of all, I don't count working hours in that way. But...I welcome the fact that many Allies and...also, people in many capitals have been working hard to ensure that we are making progress and also that we deliver on what we all promised in Madrid. Because we have to remember that all Allies made the decision in June, last year, in Madrid to invite Finland and Sweden. And as I have told you before, this is the fastest accession process in NATO's modern history. It -- It's still not a year since Sweden -- Sweden and Finland applied. Normally these processes takes years and we are already [having] Finland as a full member, and 28 Allies have ratified Sweden as -- as a member. And in the meantime, a lot of -- has happened. Sweden is much closer and much more integrated into NATO civilian and military structures now than they were before they applied. And with Finland as a member, that further enhances Sweden's security.

Then, there is no deadlock. There was a deadlock but were able -- we were able to lift that -- that deadlock, because for some weeks or months there were no meetings, no contact in the permanent mechanism. After a meeting I had with President Erdoğan, actually some weeks ago, we agreed to restart our process. We had the meeting here at -- at the NATO headquarters with Finland, Sweden, and Türkiye. We agreed to meet again. And there are constant consultations. I spoke with President Erdoğan recently and we are continuing to work at the different levels to make progress also on the accession of -- of Sweden.

So Sweden will become a member. We are working hard to ensure that that happens as soon as possible. But it is important to remember that Sweden is not left alone. It's not as if no one cares about Sweden. All Allies cares about Sweden. Allies have actually provided bilateral security assurances to Sweden. Allies have increased their presence in the region. And Sweden is at the table. Sweden is participating more and more in...our military and -- and civilian structures. And it is inconceivable that there’ll be any attack or military threat against Sweden without NATO reacting. And that's even more so with Finland inside. So, Sweden in -- is in a much better place now than before they applied. And we will ensure that they are also a full member as soon as possible.

NATO Spokesperson, Oana Lungescu: Thank you very much. I'm afraid that's all we have time for. We'll see you tomorrow. Thank you.

Original Text Source:

Original Audio and Video Source:

Text Note: Supplemental transcription work by Michael E. Eidenmuller

Audio Note: AR-XE = American Rhetoric Extreme Enhancement

Video Note: Frame interpolated from 25fps to 50fps

Page Updated: 4/18/23

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