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12 Feb 2024

Nato chief urges Europe to ramp up arms production to avoid ‘decades’ of conflict with Russia: The Telegraph

Nato chief urges Europe to ramp up arms production to avoid ‘decades’ of conflict with Russia: The Telegraph
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Originally posted on The Telegraph - By James Crisp

Europe must shift to wartime weapons production to deter Russian aggression and help Ukraine, the secretary general of Nato has said.

Jens Stoltenberg warned that “we need to reconstitute and expand our industrial base faster, to increase deliveries to Ukraine and refill our own stocks”.

“This means shifting from slow peacetime to high-tempo conflict production,” he told the German Sunday daily Welt am Sonntag.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine proved that “peace in Europe cannot be taken for granted”, he said ahead of this month’s second anniversary of Putin’s illegal invasion.

“If Putin wins in Ukraine, there is no guarantee that Russian aggression will not spread further,” he said.

“Supporting Ukraine now and investing in Nato’s own capabilities is our best defence.

“Nato does not seek war with Russia, but we need to brace ourselves for potentially decades of confrontation.”

Mr Stoltenberg’s comments came amidst growing pleas for shells, ammunition and other military aide from Ukraine as it battles Russian forces into a third year.

Moscow has shifted to a wartime economy and invested huge sums in its military. Russia is spending 40 per cent of its GDP on the war, which the West is struggling to match.

On Friday, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden urged American lawmakers to approve a long-delayed military aid package for Ukraine.

“The failure of the United States’ Congress in not supporting Ukraine is close to criminal neglect,” Mr Biden said as he hosted Mr Scholz in the Oval Office.

EU leaders backed a €50 billion (£42.6 billion) aid package for Kyiv after Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Putin’s closest EU ally, dropped his veto on the funds on February 1.

In November, Boris Pistorius, the German defence minister, admitted that an EU pledge to provide Ukraine with a million shells by March this year would not be met.

Mr Stoltenberg said: “As long as we invest in our security and we stay united, we will continue to deter any aggression.

“We monitor closely what Russia does and we have increased our presence in the eastern part of the alliance.”

Nato defence ministers will meet in Brussels on February 15, one week ahead of the second anniversary of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.

A meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group will be a key feature of the talks.

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