Let me start by stressing the historical nature of this meeting. The three of us standing here today – Ukraine, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union. Standing here today for the first time in this constellation of three is a clear demonstration of our unity to continue supporting Ukraine.
We have done it since day one. Since the first day of the Russian invasion against Ukraine, the European Union and NATO have been standing together – not only in condemning in the strongest terms the Russian aggression, but working together in order to provide Ukraine with the capacity to defend itself.
Today, we are reaffirming the unwavering support to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and its right to self-defence. Our resolve has been strong from the beginning, and we will continue doing so.
I think that today’s discussion has been crucial to coordinate – the key word that [Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro] Kuleba has said: to coordinate, speed up, and increase our support.
It is necessary in order to make the rule of law prevail over the rule of the gun, the rule of the force. It is the only way that Ukraine can win this war: to speed up, to increase, [and] to coordinate better our support. Because we are facing a situation where the war [is showing] its awful face, with bombing of hospitals, starving entire cities to death. This is what Russia is doing instead of taking steps to cease the fire. This is something that we are asking for.
Remember, Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Russia is a nuclear power. And, in spite of that, it has violated the [UN] Charter, invading a peaceful neighbour.
And, in line with the United Nations Charter, Ukraine has the sovereign right to defend itself against this unfounded aggression. And [as] the international community, we have the right to support it. To support the aggressor is not in accordance with the United Nations Charter. To support the aggressed, it is perfectly legitimate.
Ukraine needs all the support we can provide, starting with weapons and ammunitions – they need them more than ever. We are looking for the ways to accelerate the deliveries from Member States to Ukraine.
For that, we have a tool: the European Peace Facility which has been working since the beginning [of the war], since day one. All together, the Member States and the European institutions have provided more than €12 billion worth of weapons and related supplies to Ukraine.
We have launched a great [military] training programme [EU Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine] that will train about 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers by the end of the year.
But it is still not enough. We have to accelerate our military support to Ukraine. Today, especially [by providing] ammunition. Tomorrow, with other kinds of arms in order to fulfil all your needs.
I think this meeting will provide us with better coordination procedures in order to continue doing that in a united and efficient manner.
Q: High Representative, about speeding up the process to deliver ammunition to Ukraine. You said yesterday that decisions will be taken by EU Ministers of Defence next week, but Ukraine needs ammunition today. Can they expect the process – the decision-making process – to be sped up?
Thank you. Well, yesterday we had the Foreign Affairs Council meeting. And we will have [an informal meeting of] Defence Ministers [meeting] in some days – it is at the beginning of March [7-8 March]. And, after, a Jumbo meeting [bringing] together Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministers. But defence is an issue of the Ministers of Defence. Defence remains a competence - inside the European Union - of the Member States, and it is up to the Defence Ministers to take these decisions. But we have to prepare these decisions and we have to act with a sense of urgency.
After listening to my colleagues, [the] Foreign Affairs Ministers, yesterday - immediately after, yesterday night - I sent a letter to all Defence Ministers which they will be receiving today, asking them to provide ammunitions to Ukraine from their stockpiles and from the contracts they have already [contracted] with the industry, giving Ukraine [the] priority. Because the “time” parameters of what is happening and what we have to do is measured in weeks, not in months.
So, [the] first thing to do is to use what we have.
Second, [it is] to have more. And, to have more, we have to procure to [from] the industry. [Some] Member States have already done [that], many of them alone. Doing that together is better.
Third, we have to increase the industry’s capacities. Because today the rhythm of using ammunitions is greater than the rhythm of production. So, you know, even if the water goes [out] quicker than it comes in, in the end, it is empty.
So, we have to increase these three things: procurement methods, industrial capacities and mobilising quickly the resources that we already have.
This is the purpose of this strategic coordination that takes place – do not forget it – while Russia is demolishing the security system.
Today, there is a lot of [evidence] of that. As Secretary-General [of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg] mentioned: Russia’s announcement of suspending the [New] START Treaty. It is another proof that what Russia is doing is demolishing the security system that was built after the end of the Cold War.
So, we have to work on the short-term providing ammunition quickly – it is a matter of weeks. And we have to start thinking about [what] will be the future security system. But [for] the time being, let’s concentrate on the most urgent issues.
Q: With regards to the Secretary-General’s comments about being increasingly concerned about China, you have said that you have had assurances this weekend at the Munich Security Conference from State Counsellor Wang Yi that they are not going to send more weapons. Have you been shown proof by NATO or the United States that there really is a problem here?
Yes, about China. I have to confess that I had a good personal relation with State Counsellor Wang Yi for a long time, when I was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, and he was Minister of Foreign Affairs of China. And we had a frank conversation in Munich, and he was very clear. I can repeat his words: that “China does not provide arms to countries at war”, and “they are not providing arms to Russia”, and “they will not provide arms to Russia”. That is what he told me, stressing clearly that this is a principle of the foreign affairs policy of China. And by the way, [he asked] me: “why do you show concern for me maybe providing arms to Russia when you are providing arms to Ukraine?” And I had to explain the big difference. I had to explain what is at stake for us, Europeans, in the war in Ukraine. So, that is what China told me. Nevertheless, we have to remain vigilant. But as far as I know, there is no evidence that China has been doing what they claim not to be doing.
Q: How fast can you move on the European Union’s side on this proposal by the Estonians to put €4 billion in a fund and make joint procurement that way? As some people say, like you did with the vaccines to give [the] industry the security.
Well, look, the time parameters of the production of warfare material in Europe today are still not in accordance with the urgency in the frontline. It is [They are] still not. So, it is a matter of speeding up. And it can be done quickly because the European Peace Facility - which is the instrument that we have been using - has much more flexibility than the European [Union] budget. In fact, it is not part of the European [Union] budget. If I can say, it is a kind of inter-governmental club, where Members States can decide among them to increase the funding available. And they have already decided: some weeks ago, they decided to top up the initial amount of money of the European Peace Facility with €2 billion more.
So, it is a decision that can be taken without any kind of complex procedure involving the European Parliament and changing the European Union’s budget because it is not part of the European Union’s budget. It is an island managed by the Member States among them. So, it can be done quickly depending on the political will of all of us - of all of them, Member States. And that is what we are trying to do.
But, to provide ammunitions to Ukraine through the European Peace Facility is nothing new. We have been doing that since the beginning of the war: asking Member States, “provide us with your ammunition to be sent to Ukraine” and being co-financed by the fund [European Peace Facility]. So, the only thing is to do it quicker and at a larger scale.