Allied and Ukrainian lawmakers discuss increased support to Ukraine with NATO Secretary General, other senior officials

23 January 2023

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“We are at a decisive moment in this war,” stressed NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) President Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam (France) when opening the first meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council (UNIC) in 2023. UNIC brings together members of the Verkhovna Rada and Allied lawmakers. 

The 26 Allied and 6 Ukrainian members discussed Russia’s criminal war and NATO and Allied assistance to Ukraine, including with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, four Assistant Secretaries General and a number of Allied Ambassadors. The meeting took place only days after another gathering of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group concluded in Ramstein with further pledges of military assistance.

“This meeting gives us the opportunity to reaffirm the unwavering support of our Assembly for Ukraine, its independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, democracy and its right to decide its future,” President Garriaud-Maylam made clear.

NATO PA “members remain united in their unreserved condemnation of Russia’s atrocious actions, in their unwavering solidarity with their colleagues in the Verkhovna Rada, and in their steadfast support for Ukraine for as long as it takes to prevail,” read a statement released by the two UNIC Co-chairs Oleksandr Korniyenko (Ukraine), First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, and Michal Szczerba (Poland), NATO PA Vice-President. 

Mr Szczerba (Poland) praised the Allied response to the Russian war: “We have remained united in our condemnation of Russia’s horrific war and in our steadfast support for Ukraine. Continued and accelerated provision and sustaining of advanced military systems, notably of air defence and anti-ship systems, artillery, armoured vehicles, including main battle tanks, and as many artillery shells of all calibres as possible, is particularly critical. We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

Since 24 February 2022, Allies and NATO have continued to support and assist Ukraine at unprecedented levels, including with military equipment worth billions of euros provided by Allies. At the 2022 NATO Summit, Allied leaders also agreed on further NATO efforts, including through an enhanced Comprehensive Assistance Package and assistance on transitioning to modern NATO equipment, interoperability with NATO forces and strengthening defence and security governance.

In this critical phase of the war, it was nevertheless vital for members of the NATO PA and Verkhovna Rada to press Allies and NATO to increase their support and assistance. “I support the idea of excluding the Russian Federation from the UN Security Council until Russia fully and credibly complies with the rules of international law,” Mr Szczerba emphasised. 

“Our resolve is unwavering. We are - and will be - with you as long as it takes to prevail,” President Garriaud-Maylam agreed. She called upon her colleagues to live up to this moment: “Never in our recent history has our individual and collective responsibility been so great and the stakes so crucial.”  

First Deputy Chairman Korniyenko welcomed the decisions on further supply of weapons announced during the latest Ramstein meeting. “Our partners must continue and accelerate the provision and sustaining of advanced military systems. Especially critical are air defence and anti-ship systems, artillery and armoured vehicles, including main battle tanks,” he added. 

Yehor Cherniev, Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the NATO PA, also stressed the urgency of the moment: “The weapons should arrive in Ukraine as soon as possible. Those who are quick to form reserves and strike capabilities will have the strategic initiative during the spring and summer. Therefore, every day of delay in the supply of weapons can have serious consequences. We must hurry.”

The UNIC Co-Chairs urged Russia to “immediately stop this reckless war and withdraw from the entire Ukrainian sovereign territory.” They called on their colleagues to maintain and increase massive, crippling and sustained sanctions and on the EU to swiftly adopt the 10th package of sanctions on Russia and include Belarus and Iran in the package. 

UNIC members were united that Russia and its accomplices must be held accountable for all their crimes. “Russia will have to answer for all its crimes - war crimes, crimes against humanity and potential acts of genocide - before international justice,” said President Garriaud-Maylam. 

At its 2022 Annual Session in Madrid, the NATO PA reaffirmed support for the creation of a special international tribunal to judge the crime of aggression. The Assembly also recognised that Russia, under the current regime, acts as a terrorist state.

Mr Korniyenko addressed Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s peace plan and supported his call for a Global Peace Formula Summit to achieve a just and self-determined peace for Ukraine. He also stressed the importance of expanding the successful Black Sea Grain Initiative to other seaports of Ukraine. 

UNIC members also discussed how to follow up on the Assembly’s call on Allies to agree on the next steps in support of Ukraine’s NATO integration path. The Assembly has made clear it will continue its steadfast support for Ukraine on its path towards NATO integration, which the Ukrainian people have chosen and is anchored in Ukraine’s Constitution. 

During the meeting, Audronius Azubalis (Lithuania), was elected UNIC co-chair succeeding Mr Szczerba.

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