Nato in ‘ongoing talks’ on Patriot missile systems for Ukraine

Nato is in ongoing discussions about providing new systems, such as the Patriot surface-to-air missile system, to Ukraine, the Alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference at the close of the first of a two-day meeting of the Alliance’s foreign ministers on November 29.

Stoltenberg was speaking to journalists ahead of talks scheduled for later with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, whose country has requested modern missile systems to defend itself in Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“This is partly about providing new systems, like for instance, the Patriots, and there is an ongoing discussion about that now,” Stoltenberg said.

“But it’s also very much about ensuring that the systems we have ordered to deliver are functioning, are effective,” the Nato chief said.

“And to do so, we need to ensure that we provide spare parts and enable them to do maintenance of the systems.

“And also ammunition, because one of the huge challenges we face now, is that some of the advanced systems like the NASAMS that Nato Allies have provided already – advanced, Nato standard air defence systems, or the German IRIS-T, which are advanced air defence systems, that we are not only providing those systems, but that we’re also ensuring that we provide the necessary ammunition and spare parts to secure that these systems are operating effectively.

“So yes, we are addressing a wide range of additional systems. At the same time, we are urgently addressing the need to ensure that existing systems are working as expected,” he said.

Stoltenberg said that Russian President Putin was “trying to weaponise winter”.

“To force Ukrainians to freeze or flee. He is trying to break the will of the brave Ukrainian people. And to divide all of us who support them.”

Nato is not a party to the war, Stoltenberg said: “But we will continue to support Ukraine, for as long as it takes. We will not back down”.

Stoltenberg said that Nato Allies had made on November 29 additional pledges to Nato’s Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine.

“This will fund urgent non-lethal support, including fuel and generators, helping Ukraine to address the consequences of Russia’s strikes against their power grid,” he said.

Asked by journalists for details of the aid to be provided for Ukraine to cope with Russia’s assaults on the country’s energy infrastructure, which have caused widespread power cuts in Ukraine, Stoltenberg said that he could not yet give details, because he had left the meeting to address journalists while the pledges were still in progress.

He said that Nato was stepping up practical support for Ukraine.

“And of course the practical support is important because we provide them with fuel generators, winter clothing, drones, jammers, and many other things, but the political support and the practical support goes hand-in-hand because by expanding the practical support, we also are engaging more closely with Ukraine.

“And we’re also looking into how we can further strengthen that when it comes to, for instance, capacity building, helping Ukraine to transition from Soviet-era equipment, to standards and doctrines, to Nato standards and doctrines, and become more interoperable with Nato forces. So the practical cooperation and the political cooperation goes hand-in-hand and it’s helping to move Ukraine towards Nato.”

Stoltenberg said that Nato plans activated “the same morning” when Russia invaded Ukraine had led to more Nato presence,  “now 40 000 troops under Nato command in the eastern part of the Alliance, all backed by significant air and naval forces.  And SACEUR, our Supreme Allied Commander has then been provided the authority to add even more forces, if he deems that necessary. So we have plans. Then, of course we are constantly assessing those plans, developing those plans”.

“And at Madrid, at the Summit in Madrid we made decisions to further strengthen our force structure, based on many different measures, but the key elements will be more presence, especially in the eastern part of the Alliance, higher readiness forces, a pool of several 100 000 forces that can be quickly deployed; and then more prepositioned equipment. And to a larger extent, also more earmarked forces,” Stoltenberg said.

(Photo of Stoltenberg and Kuleba: Nato)

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