NATO foreign ministers will discuss more military support to Ukraine, the alliance’s chief said on Thursday.
In a doorstep statement along with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba ahead of the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting, Jens Stoltenberg said: “I'm certain that we will address the need for more air defense systems, anti-tank weapons, lighter, but also heavier weapons and many different types of support to Ukraine.”
“NATO also has a responsibility to, of course, protect and defend all allies. So, we have, since the invasion of Ukraine, stepped our military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance,” said Stoltenberg.
“And we are making sure that there is no room for misunderstanding, miscalculation in Moscow about our readiness to protect and defend all allies,” he added.
“We need support both with weapons and more sanctions. Therefore, I also welcome the fact that NATO allies are now in the process of stepping up further sanctions on Russia,” said Stoltenberg.
The NATO chief also reiterated the alliance’s position on not sending troops to Ukraine, saying: “We also have a responsibility to prevent this conflict from escalating beyond Ukraine, and becoming even more deadly, even more dangerous and destructive.”
“So, we are providing support at the same time, and working hard to prevent escalation of the conflict,” he added.
-‘Ukraine wants more weapons’
For his part, Kuleba said: “My agenda is very simple. It has only three items on it – weapons, weapons, and weapons.”
“I call on all allies to put aside their hesitations, their reluctance to provide Ukraine with everything it needs. Because as weird as it may sound, but today, weapons serve the purpose of peace,” he added.
Kuleba said: “When it comes to Ukraine, there should be no such difference between defensive weapons and offensive weapons because every weapon used in the territory of Ukraine by the Ukrainian army against a foreign aggressor is defensive by definition.
“Those saying we will provide Ukraine with only defensive weapons and are not in a position to provide offensive weapons, they are being hypocritical. This is simply unfair and unjustified,” he added.
Responding to a question regarding Germany’s military support, Kuleba said the country can do more given its military capacity and Kyiv is holding talks with Berlin for more German weapons.
“The issue that concerns me the most is the length of procedures and decision-making in Berlin. Because while Berlin has time, Kyiv doesn't,” he added.
About sanctions on Russia, Kuleba said that sanction proposals were much weaker in the past week, and Kyiv was “very unhappy” about it, adding the recent sanction proposal “is definitely a step forward.”
“I hope we will never face a situation again that calls for stepping up the sanctions pressure,” said Kuleba, adding there is no need for “atrocities like Bucha to be revealed” for allies to agree on sanctions.
“I don't believe that Ukrainians have to pay with their lives, health, and sufferings for the political will of partners to impose sanctions.”
Later, Stoltenberg and Kuleba started a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of NATO foreign ministers' meeting.
The Russian war on Ukraine, which started on Feb. 24, has drawn international outrage, with the EU, US, and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.
At least 1,563 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 2,213 injured, according to UN estimates, with the true figure feared to be far higher.
More than 4.3 million Ukrainians have fled to other countries, with millions more internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.