Ukrainian president, NATO chief discuss further military support, Vilnius summit


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday discussed further military support for Kyiv, and the upcoming alliance summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

“We welcome NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to Kyiv, to Ukraine, which stands strong, free and sees the prospect of the complete liberation of our land from the Russian occupier,” Zelenskyy said, according to a statement by the Ukrainian Presidency.

The statement said Zelenskyy hailed Stoltenberg’s visit, which is the first since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in February last year, as a sign that NATO is ready to start a new chapter of “ambitious decisions” in relations with Ukraine.

It further said that the meeting touched on four main issues – the upcoming meeting of Western defense ministers in the Ramstein format on Friday, further supply of certain types of weapons to Ukraine, preparation for the NATO summit in Vilnius, and security guarantees for Ukraine in its accession to the alliance.

Zelenskyy appealed to Stoltenberg to help overcome the “restraint” of partners in supplying Ukraine with long-range weapons, modern aviation, artillery, and armored vehicles.

“Inhibition of appropriate decisions is time lost for peace and the lives of our soldiers, who have not yet received the vitally necessary number of defense tools,” Zelenskyy said.

The statement added that Zelenskyy thanked Stoltenberg for his verbal invitation to attend the NATO summit in Lithuania, saying that there is “no objective barrier that would prevent the adoption of political decisions on inviting Ukraine to the alliance” and that it is time for “appropriate decisions.”

“It is no longer possible to imagine the security of the Euro-Atlantic area without Ukraine, and people understand that,” Zelenskyy said.

It also said that Zelenskyy and Stoltenberg touched on the issue of providing security guarantees for Ukraine during Kyiv’s accession to NATO, in regards to which the Ukrainian president said these security guarantees “in no way replace or delay Ukraine’s membership.”

“As long as the implementation of solutions continues, security is already needed. And, as history has proven, this is necessary not only for our state but also for everyone in Europe, for the entire free world. It was the security uncertainty that fueled the aggressor’s illusions. Therefore, security certainty will be a reliable protection against the repetition of any new aggression against our people or any other free European people,” he said.

Support to Ukraine

For his part, Stoltenberg said during a press conference with Zelenskyy that NATO allies have delivered more than €150 billion ($164.2 billion) of support to Ukraine since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war and that they are now delivering more jets, tanks, and armored vehicles that make “a real difference on the battlefield today,” a statement by NATO said.

“Ukraine’s rightful place is in the Euro-Atlantic family. Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO. And over time, our support will help to make this possible,” Stoltenberg further said, underlining that a multi-year support initiative will help Ukraine achieve NATO military standards.

Stoltenberg further said that Russia’s war is a “toxic pattern that must be stopped” which pushes for the need to continue strengthening the Ukrainian army.

Stoltenberg arrived in Kyiv earlier Thursday, where he visited the city of Bucha, as well as paid respects and laid a wreath at the Wall of Remembrance of the Fallen for Ukraine at St. Michael’s Square.__The Nation