Washington and its allies and partners are supporting Ukraine not just because they “agreed” to it at various meetings, but also because “it is in our interests to do so”, Stoltenberg told reporters on Friday at a joint press conference with German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius in Berlin.
“We have to remember and understand that if [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin wins in Ukraine, it is a tragedy for Ukrainians but it is also dangerous for us,” Stoltenber said, claiming that a Russian triumph would encourage “authoritarian leaders” to use force and “violate international law” to “get what they want.”
“That will make us more vulnerable,” Stoltenberg continued, adding that he was “confident that North America and Europe together will continue to support Ukraine” and that this was the only way to achieve a “negotiated peaceful solution to this conflict.”
“We know that the stronger Ukraine is on the battlefield, the stronger their hand will be at the negotiating table.”
His comments came as the Pentagon warned that military aid for Kiev was about to run dry if American lawmakers did not approve a new funding package for Ukraine.
Kiev has repeatedly ruled out any talks with Moscow, demanding a complete withdrawal of Russian troops from all territories Ukraine claims as its own. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated this demand in an interview with Reuters this week, adding that Kiev would continue the fight even without US aid, if need be.
Zelensky has denied reports in some media outlets that Ukraine’s Western backers allegedly encouraged Kiev to engage in peace negotiations with Moscow.
“This is not going to happen,” he said last week, during a joint press conference with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
In October 2022, Zelensky signed a decree banning Ukraine from holding any talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia has repeatedly signaled its readiness to engage in negotiations with Kiev but has insisted that such talks should take Moscow’s security interests and the “reality on the ground” into account. In the autumn of 2022, four former Ukrainian territories – including the two Donbass republics – officially joined Russia, following a series of referendums.
Kiev declared the votes a “sham” and has sought to reclaim control over the four territories, as well as Crimea, which joined Russia in 2014 following another referendum.