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Ruslan Stefanchuk at the High-Level Meeting of Speakers of Parliaments of NATO Member Countries: the only effective security guarantee for Ukraine is its NATO membership

Press release, 2 June 2023

Photo by the Office of the Seimas


The three sessions of the High-Level Meeting of Speakers of Parliaments of NATO Member Countries discussed the global challenges related to the changed geopolitical reality, strengthening of defence and increasing the defence spending of the Alliance, as well as the prospects of Ukraine’s defence, long-term support for the country and its membership of NATO.

Photo by the Office of the Seimas


Senator Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam, President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA), stressed that the NATO PA, which had been representing the national parliaments of NATO member countries for 70 years now, strongly condemned Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine and called for all possible efforts to bring to account war criminals responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide.


Dame Rosie Winterton, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, highlighted the current global challenges and the related importance of global organisations such as NATO. She spoke about the responsibility and duty of national parliaments to explain to their citizens how NATO works and how the decisions taken at high-level meetings affect the everyday lives of citizens.  


Valérie Rabault, First Vice-President of the National Assembly of the French Republic, said that clear security guarantees must be provided to Ukraine. According to her, our Heads of State and Government will decide how this will be implemented in concrete terms, and she has therefore called on the Chairs of the Committees on Foreign Affairs to express their support for Ukraine so that it could join NATO, thus instantly receiving solid guarantees. She says that this message is very important for us, and it is particularly important for Russia as well. 

Photo by the Office of the Seimas


The address by Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO, was delivered by Ambassador Baiba Braže, Assistant Secretary General. While reiterating that Ukraine would be supported as much as it would take, Mr Stoltenberg noted that since the beginning of the war, NATO member countries collectively had allocated EUR 150 billion in support to Ukraine, EUR 65 billion of which were earmarked for military assistance. He also emphasised that Ukraine must remain a free and independent state after the war. To this end, according to the NATO Secretary General, a strategic multi-annual support programme is being drawn up. When referring to Ukraine’s membership of NATO, Mr Stoltenberg had repeatedly reiterated that it would be up to Ukraine and the Alliance, and not Russia, to make the decision on NATO membership.


NATO can no longer afford the luxury of gradually strengthening its security forces


Ingrida Šimonytė, Prime Minister of Lithuania, said that in the changed geopolitical environment, NATO can no longer afford the luxury of taking incremental steps in strengthening its security forces without any haste. ‘This is particularly important for the Baltic countries because of our exceptional geographical position, i.e. the heavily militarised Kaliningrad Region and Belarus, which has become a de facto part of Russia and has enhanced Russia’s ability to deploy forces on a very short notice on our borders. Not to mention the recent decision to place Russia’s nuclear capabilities on the soil of Belarus. And we should not forget what connects the Baltics by land to the rest of NATO, i.e. the so-called Suwałki Gap.


In Madrid, we had taken an important decision to scale up the enhanced Forward Presence battalions at least to brigade-size units where needed. <...> In Lithuania, we need at least brigade-size Allied forces in place to deter and defend every inch of the Alliance’s territory and not to allow even a possibility of thinking to test the Alliance,’ noted the Head of Government of Lithuania.


When referring to the prospect of Ukraine’s membership of the Alliance, Ms Šimonytė said that NATO had already stated on numerous occasions that Ukraine would become a member of NATO. ‘But promises without any accompanying steps might lead to creation of grey or semi-grey zones. We cannot allow the vicious circle of grey zones’ instability to haunt Europe forever,’ she said.

Photos by the Office of the Seimas


Bärbel Bas, President of the German Bundestag, informed everyone that Germany had currently been reassessing the geopolitical reality and had focused a great deal on the strengthening of its economic resilience and its defence capabilities. She also mentioned, among other things, the specific contribution of Germany to strengthening the defence capabilities of Lithuania and other Allies as well as its consistent support for Ukraine. Ms Bas announced that she will participate in the negotiations in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania next week and will visit NATO forces stationed in Rukla. ‘It is part of my duties because the German Armed Forces represent a ‘parliamentary army’, i.e. the deployment of the German army requires the approval of the members of the Bundestag,’ Ms Bas stressed.

Photo by the Office of the Seimas


When referring to the long-term support plan for Ukraine, Elżbieta Witek, Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, underlined the need to consider military, political, diplomatic, economic and social reconstruction of the country. She pointed out that it was particularly important not to give in to the illusion that a peace could be reached if Russia’s claims to captured territories were accepted. According to the politician, such ideas are very dangerous because they can encourage Russia to seek further invasion.


Ms Witek stated that Ukraine’s future was connected with NATO. However, she said that it was understandable that not all Allies were currently prepared to make that decision. ‘Nevertheless, we must not give in and work out a compromise. From the point of view of Poland, it is very important to strengthen the political dialogue between NATO and Ukraine in this context; therefore, the plan to create the NATO-Ukraine Council would be a necessary step in this direction,’ Ms Witek said.


The only effective security guarantee for Ukraine is its membership of NATO


Receiving the majority of attention, Ruslan Stefanchuk, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, said that he had reason to be optimistic based on the 464 heroic days of war and the support of the free world in the form of the ‘tank coalition’ and the ‘air coalition’ which is currently being developed with more and more countries joining it. ‘I am hopeful that the decision on the transfer of F-16 fighter jets and other aircraft to Ukraine will be made, and the appearance of F-16 fighter jets in our skies will mark a turning point in delivering security to Europe and the world,’ Mr Stefanchuk said.


He also noted that another important decision was needed. ‘NATO is an alliance designed to ensure the freedom and security of its member countries. NATO is an alliance based on the values of democracy, personal freedom, the rule of law, and peaceful settlement of disputes. Ukraine shares the same values, which is why it seeks to become a full member of the Alliance. Eighty-two percent of my fellow citizens support Ukraine’s membership of the Alliance. And this share of the population continues to grow. Yes, the war is ongoing, and much remains to be done to claim victory and to restore just peace. However, the creation of a new security architecture cannot be postponed. The time has come to make decisive decisions.


I am convinced that the upcoming NATO Summit in Vilnius should offer the Alliance a new strategic vision for the future, a new vision for the security architecture and security guarantees. The only effective security guarantee for Ukraine is its membership of NATO,’ stressed the Head of the Ukrainian Parliament.

Photo by the Office of the Seimas


The High Level Meeting of Speakers of Parliaments of NATO Member Countries concluded the debates. As Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Seimas, explained at the beginning of the meeting, the adoption of a joint final document was not intended. Instead, Lithuania, as the host of the event, presented to the Speakers of Parliaments its CONCLUSIONS.


Jolanta Anskaitienė, Adviser, Press Office, Information and Communication Department, tel. +370 5 239 6508, e-mail: [email protected]

   Last updated on 06/06/2023 08:53
   Monika Kutkaitytė