Stoltenberg: NATO does not expect major Russian breakthroughs

According to its outgoing Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, NATO does not expect any “major breakthroughs” by the Russian armed forces in Ukraine. “They tried again this spring and summer to launch an offensive – but so far they have only achieved marginal success,” Stoltenberg told the AFP news agency in Brussels.

“We have no indications or reasons to believe that Russia has the capabilities or strength to make major breakthroughs,” Stoltenberg continued. According to the alliance’s assessment, Moscow will continue to increase pressure on Ukraine and continue its air strikes. So far, however, the Ukrainians have been able to “hold the front line,” the Norwegian stressed. They “continue to inflict heavy losses on the Russian attackers, both at the front and through low-level attacks.”

At the same time, Stoltenberg expressed his conviction that the USA will remain a “strong NATO ally” because this is “in the security interests of the United States”. This applies “regardless of the outcome of the US elections” in early November. Former US President Donald Trump is challenging incumbent Joe Biden.

Most recently, Trump caused unrest by threatening to stop supporting allies in Europe if they did not spend enough on defense. He would then even encourage the Russians to do “whatever the hell they want” to them, Trump said.

“Former President Trump’s criticism was not primarily directed against NATO,” Stoltenberg said. “It was directed against NATO allies who do not spend enough, and that has now changed,” the Norwegian stressed. According to a current alliance list, 23 of the 32 member states now meet the requirement of spending two percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense. This includes Germany with around 2.1 percent.

At the same time, Stoltenberg called on all allies not to allow any doubt to arise about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s promise of assistance. “Article five should never be called into question, because that is NATO’s core responsibility,” warned the 65-year-old.

Stoltenberg will hand over the post of NATO Secretary General to the outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on October 1. Stoltenberg will then look back on ten years at the head of the alliance.