Ukraine has made significant progress against the Russian invasion, but we must not underestimate Russia, whose missiles and drones continue to attack Ukrainian cities, civilians and critical infrastructure, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Bucharest on Wednesday, adding that, if Ukraine does not triumph as an independent and sovereign state, there will be no talk of joining the North Atlantic Alliance.
NATO foreign ministers have clearly conveyed that it is essential to continue military support for Ukraine, especially through additional air defense, Stoltenberg said, adding that he welcomes “the new commitments made by the Allies”.
The head of NATO also specified that the Allies announced significant contributions to the NATO Comprehensive Assistance Package, providing Ukraine with non-lethal aid, including fuel and generators.
Asked when Ukraine could join NATO, Stoltenberg emphasized that “the most urgent task is to ensure that Ukraine will triumph as a sovereign, democratic and independent nation in Europe”.
“If Ukraine does not triumph as an independent and sovereign state, then the issue of accession will not be discussed at all, because Ukraine would no longer be a candidate country,” said the head of NATO.
Still, he emphasized that there are many options between “nothing and total membership, which means that we must develop a partnership with Ukraine as close as possible, both politically and practically”.
This will strengthen its institutions and help it move from Soviet-era equipment standards to NATO equipment standards. This is good for Ukraine because it will increase its interoperability and help it move closer to membership, said the head of NATO.
Stoltenberg stated that the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO is almost completed. Their accession will make them safer, and our Alliance would be stronger. The Euro-Atlantic area would also be safer. It is time to welcome them as full members of the Alliance, declared Stoltenberg.
He emphasized that the NATO foreign ministers also discussed with their counterparts from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, partners of the Alliance invited to participate in the meeting in Bucharest, about “our common security concerns” and about ” the means to strengthen our cooperation”.
The Allies agreed to accelerate the corresponding support, including for capacity building, reforms and training to improve their security and defense institutions, explained the head of the Alliance.
On China, Stoltenberg said the Allies discussed on Wednesday “the long-term challenges China poses to our interests, values and security” and “how we must continue to build our resilience”.
NATO is an Alliance of Europe and North America. But the challenges we face are global and we must address them together within NATO, he added.
NATO does not see Beijing as an adversary and will discuss with it when it is in the interests of the Alliance, “including to convey our united position regarding Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, he emphasized.
The war in Ukraine has demonstrated how dangerous our dependence on Russian gas has been. This should make us reassess our dependence on other authoritarian regimes, including China, for supply chains, technology or infrastructure. We will, of course, continue to make trade and have economic talks with China, but we have to be aware of our dependencies. Let’s reduce our vulnerabilities and manage our risks, he said, according to Agerpres.
Stoltenberg also stated that the foreign ministers highlighted the importance of meeting NATO’s requirements regarding resilience and maintaining the technological advance, as well as strengthening cooperation with partners in the Indo-Pacific region and with the European Union.
He also said that the ministers also addressed the issue of terrorism, “the most asymmetric threat to our security”, and agreed that “we must continue our efforts to counter this threat”.
In conclusion, he thanked Romania for the “excellent hosting” of the meeting in Bucharest. This once again shows Romania’s strong commitment to NATO, Stoltenberg also said.