The Secretary-General asked NATO members to be prepared to spend more to reverse Russia’s invasion.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin has no immediate plans for peace in Ukraine, and that the west needs to be prepared to provide lethal aid to Kyiv over a long period.
Stoltenberg said that Putin was engaged in “a war of attrition”, and was increasing military industrial production and “reaching out to authoritarian regimes like Iran or North Korea, and others to try to get more weapons”. He called on NATO members to agree to spending a minimum of 2% of GDP on defence at the next summit, in Vilnius. Currently, only seven out of 30 member states meet this target.
Stoltenberg said that Ukraine’s use of artillery shells was outrunning Western manufacturing, and that the need to support Ukraine with weapons, ammunition and spares would continue for a long time. The EU agreed to supply Ukraine with a million rounds of shells earlier this week, enough for six months. However, Stoltenberg called on NATO members to be prepared to spend more to reverse Russia’s invasion.
Stoltenberg thought that the west had already provided enough military equipment, including tanks, fighting vehicles and rocket artillery, “to enable the Ukrainians to retake territory to liberate more and more land” seized by Russia after the initial invasion in February 2022. However, he did not rule out member states sending F-16s or other western jets to Ukraine, after an emotive “wings for freedom” plea by its president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in February.
The NATO head also emphasised the need to dissuade China from supplying arms to Russia, also running short on key munitions. China was told that there would be “consequences” if it supplied lethal aid to Moscow. A serious effort by China to act as a mediator in the conflict must be accompanied by an attempt “to understand Ukraine’s perspectives,” the NATO chief said. He called on China to engage with President Zelenskiy directly.
Is China helping Russia against Ukraine?
While there have been allegations that China may be considering supplying weapons and ammunition to Russia, there is currently no concrete evidence that China is overtly providing Russia with weapons for use in the Ukraine war. Chinese President Xi Jinping has just had a significant trip to Russia.
However, experts from the West suggest that China may be secretly selling high-tech products, including semiconductors and civilian drones, which could be used for military purposes. China has become an increasingly important trading partner for Russia as it seeks to soften the impact of economic sanctions imposed by some countries in response to its invasion of Ukraine. In 2022, China’s overall trade with Russia hit a record high level of $190 billion, a 30% increase from the year before.