Stoltenberg: ensuring Ukraine’s victory is in our interests – WELT

January 26,2023 541
Stoltenberg: ensuring Ukraine’s victory is in our interests – WELT

On Wednesday, WELT published an interview with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, which was focused mainly on Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

Although the conversation took place before the media reported that Germany was ready to deliver main battle tanks to Ukraine, one of the first questions Stoltenberg was asked is still valid, and so is his answer.

Q.: Many Germans fear the delivery of Leopard 2 main battle tanks could trigger an escalation with Russia. Can you understand these fears?

A.: Russia has launched a war of aggression against an independent, sovereign nation, and it would be a tragedy for Ukraine if President Putin got away with it. It would also be dangerous for us because then Putin and other authoritarian leaders would know that they can use brute force to achieve their goals. It is, therefore, in all of our security interests to ensure that Ukraine prevails. Of course, most wars end at the negotiating table. But what Ukraine can achieve in such negotiations is inextricably linked to the military situation. So, if we want a solution where Ukraine survives as a sovereign and free country, then it is absolutely essential to act now. More heavy equipment for Ukraine is absolutely necessary.

As for the risk of NATO being drawn into the war in Ukraine, Stoltenberg said that NATO ruled out its involvement in the war. “NATO is not a war party and will remain so. We are not sending our own troops or NATO aircraft to Ukraine. But we support them with equipment,” he stressed.

He said that NATO’s support for Ukraine has steadily depleted the alliance’s stockpiles of arms and ammunition, which need to be replenished, “also to ensure that we can continue to supply Ukraine.”

One of the questions was about Russia’s nuclear threat.

Q.: Former Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev again warned of a nuclear war last week. How seriously do you take such threats?

A.: The risk of using nuclear weapons is low. But Russian nuclear rhetoric is utterly irresponsible. It is dangerous. Russia should know that a nuclear war can never be won and, therefore, should never be fought. Of course, we are watching very closely what Russia is doing, and so far, we do not see any changes as far as the Russian nuclear forces are concerned. If that were the case, we would, of course, react. But even if we allow Russia to blackmail us with this rhetoric, the world will become more dangerous. Then Russia would keep coming up with this nuclear threat when it wants to achieve something.

Stoltenberg also said that nobody knows when this war will end. “What we do know: If you want peace tomorrow, you must support Ukraine today. It sounds strange, but the path to peace is through arms shipments,” said the NATO secretary general.

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