Press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba

Stoltenberg:

In recent weeks, we have seen large and unusual concentrations of Russian forces close to Ukraine’s borders.

Similar to Russia’s build-up in Crimea and the Black Sea region earlier this year.

NATO remains vigilant.

We do not, and will not, accept Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea.

And we call on Russia to end its support for militants in the Donbas.

All NATO Allies are united in their condemnation of Russia’s behaviour.

NATO and Allies continue to provide significant political and practical support to Ukraine.

We are helping to strengthen your capabilities, including with training for your armed forces.

Dmytro Kuleba (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine):
We have to be ready for all scenarios, for all options, but more importantly, and we have to strengthen the resilience of Ukraine towards against these scenarios, but what is more important is that all of us have to, Ukraine and the Allies, have to closely coordinate and take any measures which can help to deter Russia and to prevent the worst case scenarios….

Jens Stoltenberg (NATO Secretary General):
So what we see in around Ukraine now is a large Russian military build-up. We see an unusual concentration of forces. And we also know that Russia has demonstrated both the will and the capability to use military force against Ukraine before. We saw that when they illegally annexed Crimea, and we have seen it over many years in the way they operate support the separatists in Donbas….[T]he fact is that we see an unusual concentration of forces of military Russian capabilities, and that we have seen that Russia has demonstrated the will to use these forces against the neighbours Ukraine, Georgia, and also the course they have demonstrated against Moldova over many years….

Jens Stoltenberg (NATO Secretary General):
NATO’s presence in the Black Sea region….We have increased our military presence in Eastern part of Alliance since 2014 as a result of Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine….NATO also has presence in the Black Sea region. Partly also because three of the Black Sea states are NATO Members – Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey – and two are close partners – Georgia and Ukraine. So of course, we exercise, we operate, we are present in this region….And it also sends a signal that NATO is there to defend all Allies against any threat. And this is important to demonstrate the strength and readiness of NATO in a more unpredictable security environment.

Dmytro Kuleba (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine):
…I wish we could consider our Northern flank as a safe place. But unfortunately, this is not the case. From a military perspective, of course, the more directions of threat you have, the more dangerous your situation is. But I would like to reassure you that the Ukrainian government is taking every measure, also in cooperation with our closest partners, to reinforce our Northern flank to ensure that our country is protected from all sides….

Jens Stoltenberg (NATO Secretary General):
…NATO is consulting closely with Ukraine….[W]e work closely with Allies, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia bordering Belarus.

Why we have expressed our strong solidarity to those NATO Allies started involved in the situation we see evolving along the border between Poland, but also a Latvia and Lithuania to Belarus.

Jens Stoltenberg (NATO Secretary General):
I cannot go into details about our intelligence….And what we see is significant large Russian military build-up. We see an unusual concentration of troops. And we know that Russia has been willing to use these types of military capabilities before to conduct aggressive actions against Ukraine.

And this is partly forces close to the border between Russia and Ukraine. But it’s also partly troops and capabilities which are inside Ukraine, meaning that they are in Crimea, which is illegally annexed. And also we see the militants, the separatists and Donbas, which is also part of Ukraine, supported and helped by Russia.

So, the fact that we see this military build-up also reduces any warning time between a decision in Russia, before they’re able to actually conduct a military aggressive action against Ukraine.

I don’t want to speculate but I just…, we need to be honest, I need to be clear eyed about potential capabilities, or the capabilities that Russia has to conduct potential aggressive actions against Ukraine.

Jens Stoltenberg (NATO Secretary General):
….It’s up to any Ally to invoke Article 4.

I think the important thing is that we consult closely already between NATO Allies. And we also work closely with, I consult with, the European Union. I will meet the European Union Defence Ministers tomorrow. And I am in constant and close contact with the leadership of the European Union.

Dmytro Kuleba (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine):
…[W]e talked a lot about the fragile security situation in Belarus, but we should always remember about very tense and dangerous situation in the Black Sea region. And an encouragement to Black Sea Allies to cooperate more closely with Ukraine and Georgia. And also with Moldova on security in the Black Sea region. And joining efforts in the Black Sea between NATO and non-NATO members, is something that would be extremely timely and helpful.