NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg participated in a meeting of the US-led Ukraine Defence Contact Group in Ramstein, Germany on Friday (20 January 2023). The meeting was chaired by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and started with a video address by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Secretary General Stoltenberg said that Russia shows no sign of preparing for peace, but on the contrary, they are preparing for a long war. Therefore, the Secretary General stressed, it is urgent to further step up military support, so that Ukraine wins and liberates occupied territory. “Like most wars, this is likely to end at the negotiating table,” Mr Stoltenberg said, “but what happens in negotiations is directly linked to what happens on the battlefield, so we need to deliver more weapons to Ukraine now.”
Mr Stoltenberg thanked Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for the leadership of the United States in providing very significant military aid to Ukraine. He welcomed the recent announcements made by other NATO Allies and partners, including Germany, France, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden regarding air defences, infantry fighting vehicles and armoured vehicles. He also welcomed that the UK, France and Poland are ready to deliver main battle tanks and light tanks and called on Allies and partners to follow their example. The Secretary General also called for continued supplies of ammunition, spare parts and maintenance, as well as training. Overall, he stressed that Contact Group countries are providing “a massive package of combat capabilities” for Ukraine’s self defence, and that consultations will continue.
The Secretary General also underlined the importance of ramping up non-lethal military assistance, noting that NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package NATO is providing fuel, food, medical supplies and more to Ukraine.
The Secretary General stressed that NATO Allies need to ramp up the production of weapons and ammunition, and rapidly replenish stockpiles. He noted that that the Alliance is working closely with industry to this end, and that procurement will be a key topic when NATO defence ministers meet in February.
While in Ramstein, the Secretary General also met with the Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov and with the new German Defence Minister, Boris Pistorius.