Apr 7, 2022
NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg holds a news conference 4/07/22 Transcript
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference after NATO foreign ministers gather in Brussels to discuss the alliance’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 4/07/22. Read the transcript here.
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Secretary General: (00:00)
We agreed that we must support all the regional partners under the pressure. And we agreed to step up cooperation with our partners in the Asia Pacific, because the crisis has global ramifications.
Secretary General: (00:15)
Allies utterly condemn the horrific murders of civilians we have seen in Bucha and other places recently liberated from Russian control.
Secretary General: (00:27)
All the facts must be established. All those responsible for these atrocities must be brought to justice. And allies are supporting efforts for an international investigation.
Secretary General: (00:41)
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba thanked NATO allies for their substantial support. Allies have been doing a lot and are determined to do more, now and for the medium and longer term to help the brave Ukrainians defend their homes and their country and push back the invading forces.
Secretary General: (01:08)
Allies are also supporting and stepping up humanitarian aid and financial support. We discussed what more we will do, including cyber security assistance and providing equipment to help Ukraine protect against chemical and biological threats.
Secretary General: (01:26)
Allies agreed that we should also help other partners to strengthen their resilience and shore up their ability to defend themselves, including Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. For Georgia, we could increase our support through the substantial NATO Georgia package, including in areas like situational awareness, secure communications and cyber. For Bosnia and Herzegovina, we could develop a new defense capacity building package. Any assistance would be tailored, demand driven, and delivered with the full consent of the country’s concerned.
Secretary General: (02:09)
Today, we are also joined by Georgia, Finland, Sweden, and the European Union, as well as NATO’s Asia Pacific partners, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea because the implications of Russia’s invasions are global and will be long lasting. And what is happening in Ukraine is being closely watched around the world.
Secretary General: (02:37)
We have seen that China is unwilling to condemn Russia’s aggression. And Beijing has joined Moscow in questioning the right of nations to choose their own path. This is a serious challenge to us all. And it makes it even more important that we stand together to protect our values.
Secretary General: (02:59)
NATO and our Asia Pacific partners have now agreed to step up our practical and political cooperation in several areas, including cyber, new technology, and countering disinformation. We will also work more closely together in other areas, such maritime security, climate change, and resilience because global challenges demand global solutions.
Secretary General: (03:28)
Ministers also addressed our future relations with Russia.
Secretary General: (03:33)
The sanctions introduced by NATO allies and our partners are unprecedented. There are damaging President Putin’s war machine. We need to continue coordinated pressure to help end this senseless war.
Secretary General: (03:51)
Ministers agreed that NATO’s next strategic concept must deliver a response on how we relate to Russia in the future. And for the first time, it must also take account of how China’s growing influence and commercial policies affect our security. The strategic concept will be finalized for the Madrid summit in June. It’ll be the roadmap for the alliance’s continued adaptation for the more dangerous and competitive world we live in.
Secretary General: (04:25)
Finally, allies approved the charter for our defense innovation accelerator for the North Atlantic, or DIANA. To start, it will include the network around 60 innovation sites in North America and Europe. Working with the private sector, academia, allies will ensure that we can harness the best of new technology for transatlantic security.
Secretary General: (04:50)
And with that, I’m ready to take your questions.
Speaker 2: (04:51)
We’ll start with Wall Street Journal, second row.
Dan Michaels: (04:58)
Thank you. Thank you very much. Dan Michaels, Wall Street Journal.
Dan Michaels: (05:01)
Minister Kuleba said this morning and this afternoon that his agenda here was weapons, weapons, weapons. And this afternoon said Ukraine needs them faster. He’s concerned about the speed of the delivery of the weapons.
Dan Michaels: (05:18)
What can you say about what you and the NATO partners are doing to accelerate deliveries, if that is the case? And especially since, as you have said, as he said, the scale of the fighting that looks set to happen in Donbas will just be on a whole nother level from what we’ve seen before, is Ukraine ready for that kind of fight?
Dan Michaels: (05:38)
Secretary General: (05:45)
Let me just start by reminding everyone that NATO allies and NATO have supported Ukraine for many years. After the illegal annexation of Crimea and Russia’s first invasion in 2014, also into Donbas NATO allies and NATO have provided significant support with equipment, with training. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have been trained. And then when we saw the intelligence indicating a highly likely invasion allies stepped up last autumn and this winter.
Secretary General: (06:16)
And then, after the invasion, allies have stepped with additional military support with more military equipment. And it was a clear message from the meeting today that allies should do more and are ready to do more, to provide more equipment. And they realize and recognize the urgency.
Secretary General: (06:36)
So, this actually one of the reasons why it was important to have Minister Kuleba at the meeting. And we are closely coordinating, working with, discussing these issues with Ukraine. And of course, the different meetings we have helps us also to be informed about the needs.
Secretary General: (06:57)
So, allies are providing and ready to do more when it comes to military support.
Speaker 2: (07:03)
Speaker 4: (07:03)
I’m [inaudible 00:07:04] from Al Jazeera English.
Speaker 4: (07:10)
You speak about more weapons, right? Does it mean in quantity? Or are you talking about a different kind of weapons, or, as we call it, a more offensive weapon? And how do you think Russia is going to respond to that? That’s my first question.
Speaker 4: (07:25)
And secondly, I would like to ask your comments on this video that has emerged where Ukrainian forces appear to be killing Russian soldiers that have been captured already.
Speaker 4: (07:38)
Thank you very much.
Secretary General: (07:42)
I fully understand that you are asking specific questions about specific types of weapons. At the same time, I think it’s important to understand that allies believe it is better often to not be specific exactly about what kind of systems. But rest assured allies are providing a wide range of different weapon systems, both Soviet-era systems, but also modern equipment.
Secretary General: (08:19)
And I think that this distinction between offensive and defensive is a bit strange because we speak about providing weapons to a country, which is defending itself. And self-defense is a right which is enshrined in the UN charter. So, everything Ukraine does with the support from NATO allies is defensive because they’re defending themselves.
Secretary General: (08:45)
And of course, they need different types of weapons. And allies are providing them with different types of weapons. And we see the impact of these weapons on the battleground every day, because Ukrainians have been able to inflict severe losses on the invading Russian forces.
Secretary General: (09:08)
Then I would say that every report on potential violations of international law should be thoroughly looked into. And of course, any violation of international law and any war crime is always unacceptable. But I cannot comment on that specific video because I don’t know anything about that specific incident.
Speaker 2: (09:34)
I’ll go to [inaudible 00:09:35] Ukraine in the third row.
Speaker 5: (09:39)
Yes. Thank you very much. [foreign language 00:09:42]
Speaker 5: (09:44)
One more question about weapons. I’m not asking what, when, and how. Of course not. I’m not asking about those specifics. But can you say the so-to-say line within NATO, are there any exclusions of the types of weapons that NATO allies are ready to provide? As we heard a couple of weeks ago during the NATO summit, like Macron was saying that tanks and jets are out of the question. Or can you say that now there are no exclusions of the types of systems that can be provided to Ukraine?
Speaker 5: (10:20)
Thank you very much.
Secretary General: (10:23)
So again, if I start to be specific in my answers to that type of questions, I actually have said a lot about what kind of systems we are delivering or NATO allies are delivering.
Secretary General: (10:33)
Again, the important thing is that NATO allies are significant military support to Ukraine, but also humanitarian support, financial support and lethal and non-lethal support. We have done that for many years and allies have now stepped up.
Secretary General: (10:53)
Then, what is important to also underline is that NATO allies provides support to Ukraine. At the same time, NATO’s main responsibility is to protect and defend all allies and to prevent this conflict from escalating to a full-fledged war between NATO and Russia.
Secretary General: (11:19)
And that’s the reason why we also are focused on how to manage the risk of escalation and also to send a clear message that we are there to defend and protect all allies, not to provoke a conflict, but to prevent the conflict. And the reason why we have over the last weeks deployed 40,000 troops under direct NATO command to the eastern part of the alliance, and also added more troops under national command, including more US troops in Europe.
Secretary General: (11:51)
And this presence is to help prevent escalation of the conflict. So, we are preventing escalation. NATO will not be directly involved in the conflict. NATO allies will not send troops or capabilities into Ukraine. But at the same time, we are providing support to Ukraine in many different ways.
Speaker 2: (12:12)
We’ll go to HBO, the lady in white. Yeah.
Speaker 6: (12:20)
Can you comment on how the US and secretary Blinken have been approaching this week? And why is a long call for this war an assumption? Why not just do everything you can now while Russia retreats?
Secretary General: (12:37)
The easiest way to end this war is for Preston Putin to pull back all his troops and to end the war and to sit down and engage in serious diplomatic efforts to find a solution.
Secretary General: (12:49)
But we need to be realistic. And we have no indications that President Putin has changed his overall goal. And that is to control Ukraine and to achieve significant military victories on the battleground.
Secretary General: (13:08)
So, we don’t see a Russian retreat. What we see is a Russian regrouping and repositioning of their forces. Moving out of northern Ukraine, but at the same time, moving those forces to the east. And we expect a big battle in Donbas, a big Russian offensive. And that’s the reason why allies also highlighted today the urgency of providing more support to Ukraine. And that was also the message of course, from minister Kuleba.
Secretary General: (13:41)
That’s also the reason why we need to, of course, work for a quick end to this war. And that’s the reason why also allies are imposing heavy costs on President Putin and Russia. But at the same time, be prepared for a long haul. This war may last for weeks, but also months and possibly also for years. And therefore, we need to prepare for long haul.
Speaker 2: (14:13)
[inaudible 00:14:13] in green.
Speaker 7: (14:15)
Thank you so much.
Speaker 7: (14:16)
Mr. Secretary General, you mentioned strategic concept 2030, which will be a roadmap for these organizations. That why this document it’s very, very important for Georgia. What should we expect? I mean, about open door policy, about the future of aspirants? And can you tell us more about meeting with Georgian foreign affairs minister?
Speaker 7: (14:41)
Thank you so much.
Secretary General: (14:42)
The Georgian minister of foreign affairs attended the meeting today. And for me, it was a pleasure to meet him and to talk to him. We had also a bilateral meeting. And I think it is important that we have close contacts with Georgia and also the new minister of foreign affairs. That demonstrates the strength and importance of the partnership between Georgia and NATO.
Secretary General: (15:09)
And we also are working on how to further strengthen our partnership, including by improving and strengthening the package we have already agreed, and to add more to that package, including issues related to secure communications, resilience, and cyber.
Secretary General: (15:30)
So, we look into how we can further strengthen both the political and the practical cooperation and partnership with Georgia.
Speaker 7: (15:43)
Secretary General: (15:43)
Well in the strategic concept, that will be agreed at summit in Madrid. But I expect allies will agree that NATO’s door remains open. And also that allies will agree on the importance of further strengthening to work with partners, including those partners like Georgia, which are under pressure from Russia and to step up the cooperation and support to those partners.
Speaker 2: (16:11)
Speaker 8: (16:11)
Speaker 8: (16:13)
Mr. Secretary General, we just heard foreign minister Kuleba here offering an understanding with NATO that if you support us with all we need, we shall fight for our security, but also their security, that is NATO security, so that President Putin cannot test Article 5. That also NATO’s understanding after this meeting?
Secretary General: (16:35)
Well, our understanding and the message from all allies is that we are ready. And NATO allies are ready to provide support to Ukraine and also provide more support. And allies recognize the urgency of providing more support.
Secretary General: (16:55)
And that was the main message from allies today.
Secretary General: (16:59)
At the same time, of course, NATO has a core responsibility to ensure collective defense, to ensure credible deterrence. And we have done that for more than 70 years.
Secretary General: (17:15)
But after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, we have significantly stepped up our presence in the Eastern part of the alliance. We tripled the size of the NATO response force. For the first time in our history, we deployed combat-ready troops to the Eastern part of the alliance. And we have increased defense spending across the alliance.
Secretary General: (17:36)
And then after the second invasion, after what we saw on the 24th of February, six weeks ago from today, we have further stepped up with thousands more troops backed by substantial naval and air capabilities.
Secretary General: (17:52)
So, we are ensuring credible deterrence. And at the same time, supporting Ukraine because Ukraine, of course their bravery, their courage, the commitment, both of the Ukrainian armed forces, but also the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian political leadership, have inspired us all. And it is extremely important that we continue to support them.
Speaker 2: (18:27)
Okay. [inaudible 00:18:27]
Speaker 9: (18:27)
Thank you. Marie [inaudible 00:18:30]. Secretary General, what is the risk for NATO if the war will be very long? Thank you.
Secretary General: (18:38)
If the war is going to drag on and be long, then the risk is first and foremost for the people of Ukraine, who will suffer more, who will see more damage and more death and more destruction. So, this is first and foremost a tragedy for them. And the responsibility of President Putin to end this war, to withdraw its troops, and engage in serious political efforts to find their political settlement.
Secretary General: (19:06)
But of course, as long as the war continues, there will be a risk for escalation beyond the Ukraine. And that’s exactly what NATO is focused on, is to prevent that escalation. And we are focused to prevent escalation, partly by making sure that allies deliver the same message and stay united, but also by increasing the presence in the eastern part of the alliance in particular.
Secretary General: (19:40)
We have done a lot already. But at the summit we had recently here in Brussels with all the NATO heads of state and government, the heads of state and government agreed to ask our military commanders to provide options for more longer term changes in our military posture to address the long term effects of this war.
Secretary General: (20:04)
Because regardless of whether this war ends within weeks, months, or years, it will have long-term effects on our security, on the way NATO needs to respond and ensure continued collective defense and safe and security for NATO allies.
Speaker 2: (20:23)
Okay. Thank you very much. This is all we have time for.
Secretary General: (20:26)