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Stoltenberg: Ukraine running out of ammunition, not courage

March 14, 2024

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said the alliance's members are not supplying Ukraine with enough ammunition, warning that this "has consequences on the battlefield every day."

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gave the military alliance's annual report and urged member states to step up arms deliveries to KyivImage: Kenzo TribouillardAFP/Getty Images

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday called for members of the military alliance to step up support for Ukraine in his annual report as secretary-general.

"Ukrainians are not running out of courage, they are running out of ammunition," he stressed.

It comes a day after European Union member states agreed to provide Ukraine with an additional €5 billion ($5.5 billion) in military aid.

Also on Thursday, Germany's parliament voted against an opposition motion to allow long-range Taurus cruise missiles to be sent to Ukraine.

In the United States, plans for aid to Ukraine have been stalled in Congress for months, with a stopgap package of $300 million being announced by the executive branch earlier this week.

Bundestag votes against Taurus missiles for Kyiv

What else did Stoltenberg say?

Stoltenberg urged NATO members to maintain the "political will" to provide Kyiv with sufficient arms to fight off a Russian invasion.

Stoltenberg said NATO countries provide the vast majority of military aid to Ukraine, which has helped the country "survive as an independent, sovereign nation."

"But Ukrainians need more support — and they need it now," he added.

"NATO allies are not providing Ukraine with enough ammunition and that has consequences on the battlefield every day," Stoltenberg said. "It is one of the reasons why the Russians have been able to make some advance on the battlefield over the last weeks and months.

He said any attempts by Moscow to organize Russian elections in occupied regions of Ukraine would be "completely illegal."

Russia claimed to annex the four regions of Ukraine — Donetsk and Luhansk in the east and Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south — in September 2022. It took control of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

NATO expands, meets spending target

Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin had "failed" to spread the stop of NATO, pointing to Finland and Sweden's accession to the alliance. Sweden joined the alliance last week after centuries of military non-alignment, and Finland joined last year, shortly after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

"The world has become more dangerous, but NATO has become stronger," Stoltenberg said.

He added that "public support for NATO is extremely strong on both sides of the Atlantic."

Stoltenberg said that 2023 was the "ninth consecutive year of increased defense investment across Europe and Canada." He added that defense spending rose by an "unprecedented" 11%. 

He said NATO states will invest $470 billion in defense in 2024, amounting to 2% of combined GDP. He said that two-thirds of member states will meet the alliance's target of spending at least 2% of GDP on defense.

Germany is set to meet the NATO spending target this year for the first time since the early 1990s. Last year, Berlin spent 1.57% of GDP on defense.

sdi/sms (Reuters, AFP)