Stoltenberg urges NATO allies to 'stay the course' on Ukraine


  • World
  • Tuesday, 28 Nov 2023

Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom, Greece's Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan attend a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium November 28, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg urged members of the alliance on Tuesday to "stay the course" in supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia's invasion as both the United States and European Union struggle to agree on further military aid.

"It's our obligation to ensure that we provide Ukraine with the weapons they need," Stoltenberg told reporters as he arrived for a gathering of foreign ministers from NATO countries at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels.

"We just have to stay the course. This is about also our security interests," the secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said.

His remarks come as the fate of a $60 billion U.S. military aid package proposed by the Biden administration is in limbo due to opposition from some Republicans in Congress.

Administration officials have expressed confidence they will get the package through, saying a majority of Republicans and Democrats in Congress still back support for Kyiv.

Stoltenberg also voiced optimism.

"I'm confident that the United States will continue to provide support and because it is in the security interests of the United States to do so. And it's also in line with what we have agreed," he said.

Arriving in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said NATO ministers would be "strongly reaffirming our support for Ukraine as it continues to face Russia's war of aggression".

The meeting takes place amid gloom in Ukraine that a major counter-offensive launched earlier this year against Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces has failed to make substantial progress.

Meanwhile, a proposal by the European Union's foreign policy chief to allocate up to 20 billion euros ($21.90 billion) over four years for military aid to Ukraine has run into resistance among the bloc's member states, which would have to provide the cash.

Stoltenberg pointed out, though, that EU members Germany and the Netherlands have announced multi-billion-euro packages of bilateral military support in recent weeks. He said the war in Ukraine had significance far beyond its borders.

"It will be a tragedy for Ukrainians if President Putin wins but it will also be dangerous for us," he said.

"Then the message to all authoritarian leaders - not only in Moscow, but also in Beijing - is that when they violate international law, when they invade another country, when they use force, they get what they want."

($1 = 0.9134 euros)

(Reporting by Andrew Gray and Humeyra Pamuk in Brussels; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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