NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says all members of NATO are in favor of granting Ukraine membership in the western military alliance.
“All NATO allies have agreed that Ukraine will become a NATO member, but the main focus now is of course how to ensure that Ukraine prevails,” Stoltenberg told reporters at a Ukraine Defense Contact group meeting at Ramstein U.S. Air Base in Germany on Friday.
He added, “When the war ends, we need to assure that history doesn’t repeat itself, that Russia is not able to continue to attack and to wage war again against Ukraine and to continue to chip away at European security.”
Friday marks the fist anniversary of the Ukraine Defense Contact group, which brings together Ukrainian officials and their counterparts from the coalition of more than 50 nations.
“On the agenda are an analysis of what’s been done, our strategy for 2023, current needs of the Armed Forces, and the distribution of assistance programs to all divisions of Ukraine’s Defense Forces. We feel the support of our partners, and we continue to strive for victory,” Ukraine’s defense minister Oleksii Reznikov wrote on Twitter.
The NATO chief said he expects NATO allies and partners to announce additional support for Ukraine, including ammunition, spare parts, fuel, maintenance and repair.
Stoltenberg flew to Germany after visiting Ukrainian capital Kiev on Thursday.
Stoltenberg met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and toured the city, seeing burned out Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers, bombed buildings and the resilience of the Ukrainian people.
“Let me be clear: Ukraine’s rightful place is in the Euro-Atlantic family,” the secretary general said. “Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO, and over time, our support will help you make this possible.”
Stoltenberg praised Zelenskyy’s personal leadership and said the courage of Ukraine’s armed forces and the resilience of the Ukrainian people have inspired all.
The NATO leader also visited the city of Bucha — the scene of Russian atrocities in the early days of invasion. “Russian atrocities continue against the Ukrainian people today, and those responsible must be held to account,” he said.
He told the president that NATO will stand with Ukraine. “We stood by you after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. We stand by you today in your heroic fight against the Russian invaders and in defense of your country. And we will stand by you tomorrow as you rebuild and work toward a brighter future for the Ukrainian people.”
NATO allies have provided training for tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers, and since March 2022, they have also delivered more than 150 billion euros in support, including 65 billion euros in military aid.
“This has enabled your troops to force Russia out of Kyiv, Kherson and Kharkiv,” Stoltenberg said. “The allies are now delivering more jets, tanks and armored vehicles, and NATO’s Ukraine Fund is providing urgent support, including medical supplies, mobile satellite systems and pontoon bridges.”
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Air Force claimed that its air defense system shot down most of a dozen drones launched by Russian forces targeting the Ukrainian capital Kyiv early Friday.
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