The head of the US-led military bloc said that support for Ukraine is in the interest of all member states
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance will expand its presence across Eastern Europe, from the Black Sea to the Baltics, hoping to send a “clear message” to Russia when the fighting is going on in Ukraine.
Stoltenberg spoke in Romania on Monday ahead of a two-day NATO summit told reporters that Europe is facing “biggest security crisis in a generation” emphasizing the need to strengthen areas of “strategic importance” in retaliation for Moscow’s ongoing offensive.
“In response to Russia’s aggression, NATO is strengthening its presence from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. We have created new battle groups, including the one led by France here in Romania.” he said. “Canadian fighter jets also help keep your skies safe and American Patriot missiles boost your defenses. This sends a clear message that NATO is here. We will do what is necessary to protect and defend all allies.”
Asked when NATO hopefuls Sweden and Finland might be accepted into the alliance, Stoltenberg said he is “confident” the bloc’s 30 members will eventually approve their applications, but could not say when that would happen, as Turkey and Hungary have yet to ratify the decision. However, he noted that the two Nordic states would help “reinforce the eastern flank, especially the Baltics,” given theirs “well-trained and well-equipped advanced military capabilities.”
A meeting with NATO foreign ministers begins in Bucharest on Tuesday, where Stoltenberg said members will “address ways to increase our support for Ukraine.” He praised Romania’s “significant military assistance” to Kyiv, claims it is “in our own security interests” to support Ukrainian forces while insisting “We cannot let [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wins.”
Officials will also discuss providing Ukraine with new air defense systems, training soldiers on how to use them, as well as resupplying spare parts and ammunition for weapons already on the battlefield, the NATO chief added.
Kyiv has received a long line of heavy weapons from Western allies, with the United States alone approving more than 19 billion dollars in direct military assistance since late February, including dozens of long-range high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS), more than 46,000 anti-tank platforms and nearly 200 artillery pieces. Washington and its partners have vowed to continue such assistance, despite reports that a majority of NATO states have severely depleted their arms and ammunition stockpiles following countless arms transfers to Ukraine.