Stoltenberg Wraps Up Meeting Of Foreign Ministers: ‘Ukraine Is Closer To NATO Than Ever Before’

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NATO Foreign Ministers concluded two days of meetings in Brussels on Wednesday (29 November 2023), addressing support for Ukraine, preparations for the Washington Summit and pressing security challenges, including in the Western Balkans and NATO’s southern neighbourhood. 

The NATO-Ukraine Council met at the level of Foreign Ministers for the first time, joined by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. Speaking after the meeting, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that Allies had approved an ambitious work programme for the next year, covering energy security, innovation and interoperability.

He added: “we are now transforming NATO’s comprehensive assistance package into a multi-year programme of assistance, helping Ukraine to transition from Soviet-era to NATO equipment and standards and make their forces fully interoperable with ours”.

Foreign Ministers also discussed Ukraine’s path to membership of the Alliance and provided recommendations on Ukraine’s priority reforms, including the fight against corruption, strengthening the rule of law, and supporting human rights and minority rights. The Secretary General said that “last year, Ukraine won the battles for Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson. This year they continue to inflict heavy losses on Russia… Most importantly, Ukraine has prevailed as a sovereign, independent, democratic nation. This is a major achievement – a big win.” He emphasised that “Ukraine is closer to NATO than ever before,” adding that “we will continue to support them on the path to membership”.

Turning to the situation on the ground, Mr Stoltenberg underlined the substantial progress made by Ukraine this year, both on land and in the Black Sea. Meanwhile, he said that Russia is losing political influence in its near abroad, has incurred more than 300,000 casualties and lost a substantial part of its conventional forces, and is under economic pressure. Russia is now “weaker politically, militarily and economically… year by year, Moscow is mortgaging its future to Beijing” he said, concluding that “all of this underlines Putin’s strategic mistake in invading Ukraine”.

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