NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with Members of the European Parliament on Thursday (7 September 2023), welcoming progress in NATO-EU cooperation and stressing the importance of supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes. He took part in a meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) and the Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE).
Stoltenberg welcomed Ukraine’s progress in their counteroffensive, noting that the Ukrainian forces are “gradually gaining ground” and that “they have been able to breach the defensive lines of the Russian forces, and they are moving forward.” He added: “the Russian army used to be the second strongest in the world; and now the Russian army is the second strongest in Ukraine… The reality is that Ukrainians are actually exceeding expectation again and again. And we need to remember what’s our responsibility: our responsibility to support them.”
Stoltenberg concluded by saying: “to support Ukraine is not an option. It’s a necessity to ensure that we preserve peace for our members, for our countries and to ensure that authoritarian regimes don’t achieve what they want by violating international law and using military force.”
Stoltenberg also condemned Russia’s decision to withdraw from the Black Sea grain deal and its deliberate attempts to stop Ukraine’s agricultural exports. “We welcome the efforts by Türkiye to re-establish the grain deal,” Mr Stoltenberg said, adding that the best way to ensure safe and secure shipment of grain from Ukraine is for Russia to end its war.
On the NATO-EU relationship, Stoltenberg welcomed that cooperation has deepened in areas including cyber, space, critical infrastructure, military mobility, stability in the Western Balkans, maritime security, and more. “I believe in NATO-EU cooperation, because we share the same values, we share the same challenges. We are two different organizations, but we have a lot in common,” he said.