Stoltenberg warns Alliance must not underestimate Russia, calls for further support for Ukraine

Stoltenberg warns Alliance must not underestimate Russia, calls for further support for Ukraine

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that the Alliance must not underestimate Russia despite the recent events and stressed the importance of providing further support to Ukraine.

The relevant statement was made by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in The Hague during a joint press conference with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, the Presidents of Lithuania, Poland and Romania, and the Prime Ministers of Belgium, Norway and Albania, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

“We all saw the events in Russia over the last days.  These are internal Russian matters. But what is clear is that President Putin’s illegal war against Ukraine has deepened divisions, and created new tensions in Russia. At the same time, we must not underestimate Russia. So it is even more important that we continue to provide Ukraine with our support. And I expect that our Summit in Vilnius will send a clear message of our commitment,” Stoltenberg said.

He mentioned that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are now pursuing a counteroffensive. The fighting is hard, but they are making progress.

According to Stoltenberg, the more land the Ukrainians can liberate, the stronger their hand will eventually be at the negotiating table.

Stoltenberg commended the Netherlands and all Allies for providing critical support to Ukraine. This includes contributions to NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package, and the Dutch and Danish-led initiative to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s.

“At the Summit, we will agree a multi-year programme for Ukraine.  And we will upgrade our political ties. This will bring Ukraine closer to its rightful place in NATO,” Stoltenberg noted.

In his words, during the dinner, the participants also discussed the next steps to strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence, namely the new defence plans with assigned forces and capabilities, and high levels of readiness.

At the NATO Summit, Stoltenberg also expects Allies to agree on a more ambitious defence investment pledge, with 2 percent of GDP for defence as a floor but not a ceiling.

“Russia’s war in Ukraine demonstrates that we cannot take peace for granted. And that we must invest more in our security,” Stoltenberg concluded.

A reminder that the NATO Summit will take place in Vilnius on July 11-12, 2023.

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