NATO PA urges Allies to step up military assistance to Ukraine, lift restrictions on weapons use

27 May 2024

SOFIA - NATO Allies must accelerate deliveries of the crucial weapons that Ukraine needs to defeat Russia’s war of aggression and should lift restrictions that prohibit their use against military targets inside Russia, the Alliance’s Parliamentary Assembly declared Monday. 

“Ukraine must be provided with all that it needs, as quickly as possible and for as long as it takes for it to win,” said a Declaration adopted by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly at the end of its Spring Session in Sofia.  

It urged Allied governments “to support Ukraine in its international right to defend itself by lifting some restrictions on the use weapons provided by NATO Allies to strike legitimate targets in Russia.” 

The hard-hitting Declaration was approved by a large majority of the over 200 lawmakers from across the 32-nation Alliance at a plenary meeting attended by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Dimitar Glavchev. 

Michal Szczerba, President of the NATO PA, emphasised the importance of getting air defence systems and other vital weapons to Ukraine quickly and without restrictions. 

“They need our help. Not in two years. Not in two months. Not even in two weeks. They need it now.  We must speed up and step up. Give Ukraine everything it needs,” Szczerba told the meeting.  

“Ukraine can only defend itself if it can attack Russia’s supply lines and Russian bases of operation. It is time to recognise this reality and let Ukraine do what it must,” he added. “NATO will be significantly weakened, losing credibility, if we continue assisting with half measures.” 

Ukraine’s delegation told the Assembly restrictions preventing Kyiv from striking military targets over the border have hindered its efforts to thwart Moscow’s latest offensive into Kharkiv region and Saturday’s air strike which killed at least 16 people in a shopping centre.  

“Russian terror must be stopped. To do this, we need your determination. We need more anti-aircraft weapons, more long-range capabilities for our soldiers,” Ukraine’s Defence Minister Rustem Umerov told the Assembly in a video message. “I ask you to contribute to the adoption of these decisions as much as possible.”  

The NATO Summit scheduled for July in Washington should make progress on an enhanced Alliance role in providing and coordinating long-term military assistance for Ukraine, Stoltenberg told legislators. 

“Allies have not delivered what they promised on air defence, these gaps, these delays in military support have had consequences on the ground. There is an urgent need for Allies to step up,” he said. “We also need more long-term financial commitment ... I hope that Allies can agree a multi-year financial pledge, because the Ukrainians need more long-term knowledge, more predictability to plan and invest.” 

Stoltenberg agreed on the need to lift restrictions on the use of weapons. “The right to self-defence includes hitting legitimate targets outside Ukraine.” 

The NATO PA Declaration noted that current military assistance efforts are “not sufficient for Ukraine to win” and said Allies must move beyond incremental steps towards a strategy that provides Ukraine with “all that it needs as quickly as possible and for as long as it takes for it to win.” 

The Assembly reiterated that it “will never recognise any of Russia’s illegal and forcible attempted annexations of Ukrainian territory” and noted that “there can be no lasting peace in Europe without Ukraine as an integral part of the European and Euro-Atlantic families.” 

It stressed that NATO’s Summit “must send a clear signal that Allies will stand with Ukraine until victory and must take a concrete step forward towards Ukraine’s NATO membership.”  

“Ukraine’s place is in NATO,” said Szczerba. “The Washington Summit must recognise that Ukraine’s path to membership is irreversible.” The Sofia Session granted Ukraine’s delegation candidate member status within the Assembly. 

Allies should “clearly affirm that their strategic goal is Ukraine’s victory” and “urgently step up and speed up the delivery of the military assistance which Ukraine needs to win,” the Declaration said.  

In addition, the Assembly urged NATO governments to “prepare a long-term strategy and proactive measures of modern containment of Russia in order to counter the Russian threat in all its dimensions, actively defend democracy and the rules-based international order … and contest Russia’s aggressive political, military and hybrid activities.”