Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg joined the heads of seven NATO allies in The Hague on Tuesday to help prepare for the Alliance’s Vilnius Summit.
The meeting was co-hosted with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and included Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo of Belgium, President Gitanas Nausėda of Lithuania, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre of Norway, President Andrzej Duda of Poland and President Klaus Iohannis of Romania.
Commenting on the events in Russia over the past few days, the Secretary General said, “these are internal Russian issues, but it is most clear that President Putin’s illegal war against Ukraine has deepened divisions and created tensions in Russia.” But, he added, “we must not underestimate Russia, so it is even more important that we continue to support Ukraine.”
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The Secretary General emphasized that the Summit will send a clear message of commitment to Ukraine. He thanked the Netherlands and other allies present for providing critical support, including contributions to NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package and training Ukrainian pilots in F-16 jets. He said the Vilnius Summit will agree on a multi-year program for Ukraine and improve political ties, bringing Ukraine closer to its rightful place in NATO.
Leaders also discussed NATO’s next steps to strengthen the Alliance’s deterrence and defense, as well as a more ambitious defense investment pledge. “Russia’s war in Ukraine shows that we cannot take peace for granted and that we must invest more in our defense,” concluded Secretary General Stoltenberg.