Zelenskyy makes surprise visit to NATO in bid to boost military deliveries ahead of winter

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg arrive at NATO headquarters in Brussels on October 11, 2023.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg arrive at NATO headquarters in Brussels on October 11, 2023. Copyright AP Photo
By Alice Tidey
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button
Copy/paste the article video embed link below:Copy to clipboardCopied

Ukraine's President unexpectedly visited the NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday morning where defence ministers from the military alliance are gathering for a meeting.


Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters upon arrival that the priority for the country was "how to survive during the winter."

"We are preparing, we are ready. Now we need support from the leaders," he added, citing air defence systems, artillery and ammunition as critically important.

He said this would allow the country to "just stay each day and defend."

"It's not about counteroffensive. Counteroffensive is one direction but you also have to defend because opposite you, Russia, big army of this terrorist," he added.

Speaking alongside him, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated the alliance's firm support for the war-torn country "for as long as it takes".

"President Putin is preparing once again to use winter as a weapon of war, meaning attacking the energy system, the gas infrastructure. We need to prevent that with more advanced and increased capabilities for air defence," he said.

"We have now $2.4 billion in what we call forward contracts for increased ammunition production out of which $1 billion is firm contracts and we are constantly working on ramping up production," he added.

Zelenskyy should address defence ministers of the military alliance during the newly-established NATO Ukraine Council as well as during a meeting of the US-led Ramstein group -- an alliance of over 50 countries, including NATO members, that support Ukraine against Russia. 

The UK has already announced a new package of support worth £100 million (€115.6 million) to help Ukraine clear minefields, maintain vehicles and shore up defensive fortifications to protect critical infrastructure.

Zelenskyy is also slated to meet with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo later today.  The country has announced that it will supply F-16 jets to Ukraine from 2025.

But Zelenskyy said his focus during the meeting will be on how to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine. 

"There are some voices in the world that we don't have money to help Ukraine in reconstruction. The answer is very quick: you have assets, Russian assets. If they destroy us, we can use that money.

"Let's find the key to have this Russian money and spend them on reconstruction of Ukraine," he told reporters.

Asked about whether he would meet EU chiefs while in Brussels, Zelenskyy said no meetings are yet planned but that "maybe" he will meet with Council President Charles Michel. 

The two met last week on the sidelines of a summit of the European Political Community in Granada, Spain. During their bilateral, the Ukrainian president said that the country has "done almost everything" to open negotiations to join the EU.

EU leaders are expected to decide whether to open such negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova during their summit in December. 

The two-day NATO gathering will also see ministers discuss the situation in Kosovo and the wider Western Balkan region, the possible new deliberate act of sabotage in Baltic Sea on critical undersea canles as well as the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Asked about the latter, Zelenskyy said that his "recommendation is for leaders to go to Israel and I think to support people, just people."


"I'm not speaking about any institution, just people who have been under terrorist attacks, people who are dying now. Unity is more important than to be alone, it's more strong," he said.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

'Win-win': UK set to return to key EU research programme, Horizon Europe, on 1 January

Opposition to EU Green Deal grows as European elections approach

Future generations must be given a seat at the EU table