NATO Chief Urges More Weapons for Ukraine—'Winter Is Coming'

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has urged Western nations to provide more weapons more quickly to help Ukraine retake territory occupied by Russia, including the peninsula of Crimea occupied since 2014.

Speaking at Tuesday's Crimea Platform summit, Stoltenberg also warned that a harsh winter lies ahead for Ukraine and its NATO supporters, necessitating continued backing for Kyiv despite the costs.

"NATO is part of the U.S.-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group to mobilize support, and I actively engage with leaders to urge them to provide more weapons, and more ammunition, more quickly," Stoltenberg said.

Jens Stoltenberg NATO chief at August speech
NATO Secretary general Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference after a meeting with Kosovo's Prime Minister in Brussels, on August 17, 2022. FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS/AFP via Getty Images

"Winter is coming, and it will be hard," Stoltenberg said. "What we see now is a grinding war of attrition. This is a battle of wills and a battle of logistics. Therefore, we must sustain our support for Ukraine for the long term, so that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign independent nation."

Stoltenberg joined other leaders speaking at the summit to demand the return of Crimea to Ukrainian control.

"Eight years ago, Russia illegally annexed Crimea, transforming it into one of the most militarized areas in Europe and using it as a launchpad for a full scale invasion of Ukraine six months ago," the secretary-general said.

"President Putin thought he could crush the Ukrainian people and armed forces. He thought he could divide our democratic nations and he thought he could dictate what others do. President Putin was wrong."

Newsweek has contacted the Russian Foreign Ministry to request comment.

NATO nations have provided the vast majority of military assistance to Ukraine, in particular the U.S.

Smaller NATO nations like Poland, Estonia, and Latvia are among the leading contributors in relation to national GDP, as shown in the below Statista infographic.

Statista graphic showing Ukraine aid rankings
This infographic shows national commitments to aid for Ukraine as a percentage of their GDP. Statista

Ukraine's goal of NATO membership was cited as a key grievance by Russian officials, including Putin, seeking to justify Moscow's latest invasion. The costly operation has arguably backfired, with Finland and Sweden set to end decades of neutrality and join the alliance.

NATO leaders have also said the alliance's "open door" policy remains intact, despite Kremlin demands that Kyiv is excluded from any future membership.

Meanwhile, the alliance has been pivoting to a more proactive stance on its eastern flank. "We have strengthened our presence in the east of the alliance," Stoltenberg said. "NATO's security guarantees leave no room for miscalculation in Moscow, and they enable allies to support Ukraine's right to self-defense."

"A strong, stable and independent Ukraine is essential to Euro-Atlantic security," the secretary-general said. "NATO stood with Ukraine throughout three decades of independence. We stand with Ukraine now. We will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes."