BUCHAREST, November 29. /TASS/. NATO recognizes Ukraine's aspiration to join the bloc, but the main priority now should be military support for Kiev, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday at a press conference following the first day of the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting.
"Our meeting here in Bucharest is sending a strong message of NATO unity and of sustained support for Ukraine. In our meeting, we also addressed Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Foreign Ministers reaffirmed NATO’s support for Ukraine’s right to choose its own path. <….> We recognize and respect Ukraine’s aspirations for membership. However, our focus now is on providing immediate support as Ukraine defends itself against Russian aggression," he said, adding that NATO doors remained open for new members.
The Secretary General also stressed that "allies made additional pledges to NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine." "This will fund urgent non-lethal support, including fuel and generators," Stoltenberg pointed out.
Earlier, the New York Times quoted NATO representatives as saying that NATO countries had transferred weapons worth $40 billion to Ukraine, which is compared to France’s annual military budget. At the same time, 20 out of 30 NATO countries have exhausted their supply potential, with Poland and the Baltic states being in a particularly difficult situation. The remaining ten countries have voiced their readiness to continue supplies. Among them are France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Ukraine was actually controlled by the US and was used as a battering ram against Russia. The head of state pointed out that arms supplies to Kiev could pose serious challenges: not only small arms, but also "more powerful means of destruction, including portable anti-aircraft missile systems, high-precision weapons" could get to other countries from Ukraine.