NATO’s Secretary-General held a meeting with Ukraine’s President to address the ongoing war situation and the requirements of the troops. This meeting took place on Thursday, following Russia’s allegations that Ukraine’s Western allies were involved in planning and executing a recent missile strike on the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters in Crimea, which is under Russian control.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy conveyed that NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had committed to mobilizing NATO member nations to assist in providing additional air defense systems. These systems are crucial to safeguard Ukraine’s power plants and energy infrastructure, which suffered significant damage during previous Russian attacks in the winter.
Zelenskyy also brought up the persistent threats from drones, missiles, and artillery attacks that frequently target residential areas. He cited recent incidents that led to at least three civilian casualties within the past day.
“In the face of such relentless attacks on Ukrainians, our cities, and our vital ports essential for global food security, we require substantial pressure on Russia and reinforcement of our air defense,” emphasized Zelenskyy.
Stoltenberg stated that NATO has secured contracts worth 2.4 billion euros ($2.5 billion) for ammunition supplies to Ukraine, including 155 mm Howitzer shells, anti-tank guided missiles, and tank ammunition.
“The stronger Ukraine becomes, the closer we come to ending Russia’s aggression,” Stoltenberg remarked. “Russia has the option to lay down arms and end the war today, whereas Ukraine does not. Surrendering for Ukraine would not equate to peace; it would mean enduring brutal Russian occupation. A peace at any cost would not be genuine peace.”
Ukraine has been actively pursuing NATO membership, and Stoltenberg reiterated that Ukraine’s future lies within the trans-Atlantic military alliance, affirming NATO’s enduring support for Kyiv.
The Kremlin perceives Ukraine’s potential NATO membership as an existential threat and has cited this as one of the reasons for its invasion.
Recently, Russia claimed that the attack on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Crimea had involved collaboration with U.S. and U.K. security agencies, with NATO’s satellites and reconnaissance planes allegedly playing a role.
Ukraine reported that the attack resulted in the deaths of 34 officers and injuries to 105 others. It also claimed to have eliminated the fleet’s commander, Adm. Viktor Sokolov, who appeared on Russian state television in Sevastopol.
Unverified reports suggested that Storm Shadow missiles provided by the U.K. and France were used in the attack on the Russian navy facility. The U.K. Ministry of Defense did not comment on Russia’s assertions.
On the same day as the meeting with Stoltenberg, France’s defense minister met with Zelenskyy to explore strategies for continuing weapons support. The U.K. defense secretary reaffirmed Britain’s support for Ukraine and pledged additional ammunition for Ukraine’s counteroffensive.
France, having provided air defense systems, artillery, armored vehicles, and other weaponry to Ukraine, is seeking ways to sustain its support without depleting its own resources. This includes direct acquisitions, sometimes with French subsidies, for the Ukrainian army.
The U.K. Defense Secretary, who hosted a Ukrainian family in his home for a year, expressed personal anguish over what Ukraine has endured and reaffirmed unwavering support.
Zelenskyy disclosed that Ukraine is developing a plan outlining practical steps to align with NATO’s principles and standards. Importantly, he noted that the allies had concurred that Ukraine doesn’t require an action plan for NATO membership.
During NATO’s annual summit, members pledged increased support for Ukraine but stopped short of extending an invitation for membership. They stated that Ukraine could join when all allies agree and conditions are met. They also committed to removing obstacles to Ukraine’s membership path, expediting the process once the conflict with Russia concludes.
Stoltenberg addressed the recent discovery of drones resembling Russian models near the Ukraine-Romania border. He stated that there was no evidence of intentional attacks by Russia on a NATO member, but he criticized Moscow’s actions near the Romanian borders as reckless and destabilizing. NATO announced the reinforcement of troops, air policing, and surveillance along its eastern borders, including Romania, to defend all its member states.
Meanwhile, authorities in Moldova, situated between Romania and Ukraine, were investigating the origin of a “crashed rocket” found in Harbovat Lake, near the Ukraine border. The remains were safely detonated in the Anenii Noi district, as per Moldova’s interior ministry.