Jens Stoltenberg appeared at the Körber Foundation’s Berlin Foreign Policy Forum event. These are dramatic times for Europe, for NATO, for Germany. The Ukraine war escalates, with Russian airstrikes on Ukrainian cities and more nuclear threats from Moscow.

But Stoltenberg is certain: “Putin will not succeed” in breaking the Ukrainian people’s will to fight.

With Western military support, many Russian missiles and drones could have been intercepted. Stoltenberg particularly praises the air defense systems supplied by Germany.

Thanks to support from abroad, the Russian advance on Kyiv could be stopped, Russia never achieved the expected air superiority over Ukraine and the Ukrainian reconquests in the east and south were possible.

And the head of NATO is also warning the allies to persevere: the member states should “provide as much support as necessary and for as long as necessary”. This is reminiscent of the words of former ECB President Mario Draghi, who promised to support the euro with “whatever it takes” during the 2012 sovereign debt crisis.

The German military contribution has sometimes been criticized as insufficient. Above all, the Ukrainian government wants German Leopard 2 battle tanks, which the federal government has so far rejected.

Stoltenberg dodged the question of whether Germany should now deliver Leopard 2, but stressed to the whole of NATO: “We all have to do more now.” And not just deliver more, but also “boost production to replenish our stocks”. . Your own ability to defend yourself should not be neglected.

Russian President Putin has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons. The Ukrainian territories recently annexed after a sham referendum are now under Russian nuclear protection. Some observers believe a militarily cornered Putin could use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

The NATO Secretary General is trying to calm things down a bit here: All military movements and possible preparations are being observed very closely. “The risk of nuclear weapons being used against Ukraine is low.” But NATO is “prepared for all eventualities.”

As a precaution, however, he warns the Russians of unspecified “serious consequences” should they use nuclear weapons, adding: “A nuclear war cannot be won.”

The message to Putin, Ukraine and NATO allies is particularly important to Stoltenberg: “We will not let Russia intimidate or blackmail us.”

With the threats, Putin only wants to stop support for Ukraine.

“If we do that, President Putin will win in Ukraine. And if he wins, it would send a very dangerous message to all authoritarian leaders that if they use brute force and break international law, they will achieve their goals.”

Stoltenberg certainly distinguishes between a possible Russian use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine and an attack – nuclear or conventional – on a NATO member. If a NATO country is attacked, there shouldn’t be any misunderstandings in Moscow: “Of course, that would trigger Article 5, the collective defense clause.”

That is why the troop presence in the east of NATO has also been increased and put on increased alert. “We’re not doing this to provoke a conflict, we’re doing this to prevent a conflict.”

If Ukraine were already in NATO today, the obligation to provide assistance would already apply. Some believe that would have prevented a Russian attack; others, especially in western Europe, are happy that NATO is not automatically drawn into the conflict. The Ukrainian President Zelenskyj is now calling for an accelerated admissions process.

But Stoltenberg remains vague about this: “NATO’s door remains open. And one day Ukraine will be a member.” Russia has no say in this. That is solely a matter for all NATO members and Ukraine itself. At the moment, however, that is not the question, now we have to concentrate on “that Ukraine wins the war”.

Stoltenberg also draws lessons from the Ukraine war for dealing with an increasingly aggressive China. With regard to a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan, the NATO Secretary General said: “It is never acceptable when a country tries to grab territory from another country.” China should “at least condemn” the war against Ukraine.

Does Putin have to go for there to be a solution to this war? Stoltenberg avoided this question. NATO will react to Russian actions, regardless of who is in charge there. But he gives an indirect answer, and it is probably aimed primarily at those who believe Ukraine should compromise in order to have peace: “Putin started the war.”

And one must not forget: “If President Putin’s Russia stops fighting, there will be peace. If Ukraine stops fighting, it will cease to exist as an independent state.”

The full interview in Conflict Zone has been available on Deutsche Welle English since Wednesday at 19:30 UTC.

Author: Christoph Hasselbach

The war in Ukraine is at a turning point, says military expert Carlo Masala. Ukraine is now under a lot of pressure and Putin is using drones because missiles are too expensive, according to the politics professor. The Kremlin boss could now open a second front and then offer a ceasefire, says the expert in a “Stern” podcast.

Russia wants to ramp up production of its own aircraft as quickly as possible. The state-owned company Rostec makes it clear how many planes should be delivered by 2030.

Hardly anyone “reads” Vladimir Putin and the Russians as knowledgeably as the Russian writer Viktor Erofeev, who fled to Germany. Germany’s Chancellor should meet with him. And be prepared for some uncomfortable truths.

The original of this post “Stoltenberg: “We will not let Russia blackmail us”” comes from Deutsche Welle.