Nato is determined to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia for “as long as it takes” and will help the war-wracked country transform its armed forces into a modern army up to western standards, the alliance’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg vowed.
Speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Romania next week, Mr Stoltenberg urged countries that want to – either individually or in groups – to keep providing air defence systems and other weapons to Ukraine.
Nato as an organisation does not supply weapons.
“Nato will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We will not back down,” the former Norwegian prime minister said.
Mr Stoltenberg said members of the 30-nation security organisation have been delivering fuel, generators, medical supplies, winter equipment and drone-jamming devices – but more will be needed as winter closes in, particularly as Russia attacks Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.
“At our meeting in Bucharest, I will call for more,” he said.
“Over the longer term, we will help Ukraine transition from Soviet-era equipment to modern Nato standards, doctrine and training.”
Mr Stoltenberg said Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba will join the ministers to discuss his country’s most pressing needs but also what kind of long-term support Nato can provide.
Nato’s top civilian official said the support will help Ukraine move toward joining the alliance one day.
Also attending the meeting will be the foreign ministers of Bosnia, Georgia and Moldova – three partners Nato says are coming under increasing Russian pressure.
Mr Stoltenberg said the meeting will see Nato “take further steps to help them protect their independence and strengthen their ability to defend themselves”.
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion 10 months ago, Nato has bolstered the defences of allies neighbouring Ukraine and Russia but has carefully sought to avoid being dragged into a wider war with a major nuclear power.
But Mr Stoltenberg put no pressure on Ukraine to enter peace talks with Russia, and indeed Nato and European diplomats have said Mr Putin does not appear willing to come to the table.
“Most wars end with negotiations,” he said.
“But what happens at the negotiating table depends on what happens on the battlefield. Therefore, the best way to increase the chances for a peaceful solution is to support Ukraine.”