German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday said at a joint news conference with outgoing NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Berlin that the West should adjust its policy with the expectation that the Ukraine war would go on for an indefinite time.
“We have to brace ourselves that the Russian act could last for a long time,” Chancellor Scholz said. “This is what we are preparing for and this is what we are orienting our policy toward. Germany will continue to be a staunch supporter of Ukraine as long as it takes, however, it’s obvious that NATO will not become a party to the conflict.”
On June 14, the German government published its first National Security Strategy since 1945, which says, “We express our strong commitment to NATO and the EU and strengthen the Bundeswehr to meet the primary objective of national and alliance defense.” To that end, Germany will increase its defense spending by 2% “over several years.”
Stoltenberg, for his part, announced that NATO would not invite Ukraine to join the alliance. “At the Vilnius summit and in the preparations for the summit, we are not discussing issuing a formal invitation,” he said at the joint press conference.
Stoltenberg warned against the normalization of an endless war in Ukraine. “We all want this war to end, but a just peace cannot mean freezing the conflict and accepting a deal dictated by Russia,” he said in response to the Chancellor’s pessimistic assessment.
Last week, at their Oval Office meeting, Stoltenberg told President Joe Biden that the “support we are providing together for Ukraine is now making a difference on the battlefield.”
He later tweeted:
Great meeting w/ @POTUS to prepare the #NATOSummit. I thanked him for his leadership & US commitment, including on support to #Ukraine. In Vilnius, we will step up support for Ukraine and further strengthen our deterrence & defence, including with a new defence investment pledge. pic.twitter.com/aqiR0TLSAP
— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) June 13, 2023
Earlier, Stoltenberg told CNN: “The more land they gain, the more likely it is that President Putin will understand that he has to sit down at the negotiating table and agree to a just and enduring peace in Ukraine.”
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Ukraine is negotiating with Western arms manufacturers from Germany, Italy, France, and Eastern Europe to produce weapons in Ukrainian territory.
“We have very detailed discussions with them,” Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Strategic Industries Sergey Boyev told Reuters, “And we are certain that we will sign contracts within the next few months.”