On Monday (14 November 2022) the NATO Secretary General met with the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra and with Minister of Defence Kajsa Ollongren in The Hague. The Secretary General welcomed the strong contributions from the Netherlands to Allied security, including jets to protect NATO’s eastern flank, leading one of NATO’s maritime groups and taking part in NATO’s battlegroups in Lithuania and Romania. Mr. Stoltenberg also welcomed the Dutch plans to increase defence spending in the coming years and to keep NATO’s technological edge in a more competitive world.
The Secretary General stressed that all these contributions are important “as we face a critical moment for European security.” Speaking about Russia’s brutal war of aggression and NATO’s support for Ukraine, Mr. Stoltenberg said: “Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson demonstrates the incredible courage of the Ukrainian armed forces. But it also shows the importance of our continued support to Ukraine”. He stressed that “we should not make the mistake of underestimating Russia. The Russian Armed Forces retain significant capabilities, as well as a large number of troops. And Russia has demonstrated the willingness to bear significant losses. They have also shown extreme brutality. We have all seen the horrific scenes from the liberated territories, as well as the indiscriminate attacks on civilians and critical infrastructure. The coming months will be difficult. Putin’s aim is to leave Ukraine cold and dark this winter. So we must stay the course.”
The Secretary General thanked the Netherlands for its generous contributions to NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine, saying that this will fund urgent support, such as fuel, winter clothing, medical supplies and counter-drone systems. He also welcomed that the Netherlands will provide another 120 million euros of assistance to Ukraine, including for upgraded Czech battle tanks.
“The current conflict also shows the importance of diversifying our energy supplies and protecting our critical infrastructure,” he said.
Mr. Stoltenberg said that the Netherlands plays an important role in contributing to the resilience of other Allies through its ports, transport networks and energy import facilities.
The Secretary General also took the opportunity to recognize the victims of the bomb blast in Istanbul on Sunday, 13 November. “My condolences go to all those affected and the Turkish people,” he said.