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NATO chief vows unwavering support for Ukraine

November 25, 2022

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg pledged unyielding support for Kyiv from the alliance. He laid out the agenda for a NATO foreign ministers meeting next week.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium November 25, 2022.
Stoltenberg vowed unwavering support to Kyiv ahead of a NATO foreign ministers' meeting next week.Image: Johanna Geron/REUTERS

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization will continue its unwavering support for Ukraine in the face of Russia's war of aggression, the alliance's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday.

"NATO will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We will not back down," Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels. His press conference comes ahead of a foreign ministers' meeting of the alliance in Bucharest next week.

The NATO chief said the alliance members planned to increase their nonlethal aid for Kyiv. He stressed that there will be no lasting peace in Ukraine if Russia won the war.

"Most wars end in negotiations, but what happens on the negotiating table depends on what happens on the battlefield," he said.

Sending air defense units 'national decision'

During the press conference, Stoltenberg was asked about Poland's request to Germany to provide Kyiv with Patriot air defense units.

Germany had offered Poland, a neighbor and NATO partner, the US-made surface-to-air missile (SAM) defense system after a stray Ukrainian air defense rocket struck a Polish village6 kilometers (4 miles) from the Ukrainian border last week, killing two people.

In return, Poland asked for the system to be passed on instead to Ukraine. But Berlin insisted the missiles are only to be deployed within NATO.

Stoltenberg said on Friday that the alliance nations supplied Kyiv with jammers to defend the country against Russian drone attacks.

"Allies are providing unprecedented military support," Stoltenberg said.

Berlin, however, is struggling to come with an answer to Warsaw's request for the missile defense systems to leave NATO. 

It's "hard to understand," Thomas Bagger told the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita in Friday's edition, noting how Germany only has a limited number of the Patriot missile defense systems and few to spare.

"The fact it was offered for the security of Poland's airspace is a symbol of the great importance that the government in Berlin assigns to Poland," said Bagger.

The Russian war's ripple effect

Stoltenberg said the NATO foreign ministers' meeting next week will discuss the Russian war on Ukraine which "continues to threaten Euro-Atlantic peace and security."

"President (Vladimir) Putin is failing in Ukraine. And he's responding with more brutality," Stoltenberg told reporters.

He said Russian missiles were hitting civilians and infrastructure and depriving citizens of heat, light and food. He described the situation as a "horrific start to the winter for Ukraine."

A view shows the city centre without electricity after critical civil infrastructure was hit by Russian missile attacks, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, Ukraine November 23, 2022.
The NATO SecGen said Russian missiles dropped on Ukraine were depriving the country of heat, light and foodImage: Pavlo Palamarchuk/REUTERS

He also addressed the rise in energy and food prices worldwide, saying the whole world was paying the price for Russia's war on Ukraine.

"If we let Putin win, all of us will pay a much higher price for many years to come," Stoltenberg said. "If Putin and other authoritarian leaders see that force is rewarded, they will use force again to achieve their goals."

Other topics on the agenda

Stoltenberg said next week's meeting will be attended by foreign ministers of non-NATO members, including Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He said many of NATO's partners were under Russian pressure.

"In the meeting, we will take the further steps to help them protect their independence and strengthen their ability to defend themselves," Stoltenberg said.

The NATO chief said the foreign ministers will also discuss China's growing influence, which he said posed challenges to NATO members.

Last summer, NATO laid out a new strategic concept, declaring Russia its most direct threat, while describing China as a security challenge.

rmt/sms (dpa, Reuters)