Wednesday

17th Aug 2022

Western public has 'moral' duty to Ukraine, Nato chief says

  • Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg (Photo: nato.int)
Listen to article

Rising energy and food prices shouldn't stop the Western public from supporting Ukraine, Nato head Jens Stoltenberg has said.

"There is a moral and political obligation to Ukraine," Stoltenberg told press in Madrid on Tuesday (28 June), as Nato leaders met in Spain for talks on a "historic" expansion in reaction to Russia's war.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Even if the war were to last for years, the general public in Western countries will "have to put things in perspective" given the "atrocities" being perpetrated by Russia against the "courageous" Ukrainian people, he said.

"We have supported Ukraine since 2014. We didn't wake up there in February 2022," he said, on the moral imperative of remaining a faithful friend.

"It will be our world, the world of Nato allies, that will be more insecure if [Russian president Vladimir] Putin wins this war. It's in our security interest to make sure Ukraine prevails as a sovereign and secure nation," he also said.

Stoltenberg repeatedly laid the blame for the oil and food price shocks at Putin's door, in a bid to strike back at Russian propaganda.

Putin was "using energy as a weapon of coercion," by restricting supplies and was also blocking Ukrainian grain ships, the Nato chief said.

"The core problem is the brutal, unjustified Russian war," Stoltenbrg said. And Western leaders must "convey how important this fight is" to their voters, in the face of Russian and Chinese-backed "false narratives", he added.

Stoltenberg is to hold talks with the leaders of Finland, Sweden, and Turkey later on Tuesday to discuss the Nordic countries' bid to join Nato.

And Nato leaders plan to increase their rapid-reaction force in Europe from some 40,000 to 300,000 soldiers, in a second aspect of looming enlargement.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been vetoing the Nordic move on grounds Sweden is not doing enough to help him fight Kurdish "terrorist" groups.

"I hope we can make some progress," Stoltenberg said, in a note of optimism.

"To sit down and discuss with Turkey what we can do more in the fight against terrorism" was a normal part of the accession process, he said.

One long-term lesson of the war was that EU countries' dependence on Russian energy "made them as vulnerable as they never have been" to Putin's manipulation, he added.

The West should still exercise free trade with other autocratic regimes such China or Saudi Arabia, but should beware of becoming equally dependent on Chinese rare-earth minerals or telecommunications infrastructure, he said.

Opinion

The pros, and cons, of Finland joining Nato

Two citizens' initiatives were presented to the parliament in Helsinki this week, one demanding Nato membership and one demanding a referendum on Nato membership. Both gathered the needed 50,000 signatures in a matter of days.

EU creates hub to stop arms-smuggling out of Ukraine

EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson announced a hub in Moldova to battle organized crime, particularly arms smuggling from war-torn Ukraine. The hub will be a "one-stop-shop" allowing the EU's border guard agency Frontex to support local border agencies.

Column

Is this strange summer a moment of change?

It is a strange, strange summer. The war in Ukraine continues, 60 percent of Europe is in danger of drought, and Covid is still around and could rebound in the autumn. At the same time, everyone is desperate for normalcy.

Opinion

A year of Taliban — only aid is keeping Afghan kids alive

It's a year since the Western military presence in Afghanistan ended. A year since panic-stricken people flocked to Kabul airport, trying to flee the country, and girls and women waited fearfully for the disintegration of their hard-won rights.

News in Brief

  1. Tens of thousands of Jews quit Russia since start of war
  2. Russia says GDP forecasts better than expected
  3. Spain 'hopeful' for new gas pipeline
  4. German troops return to Bosnia over instability fears
  5. Next UK PM candidates reject Scottish independence push
  6. Russia will not allow British spy plane overflight
  7. Discrimination in Germany remains high, new figures show
  8. US weighs plan to revive Iran nuclear deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us