NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has made a surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. This was confirmed by a spokesman for the defense alliance of the German Press Agency.
On his first trip to Kiev since the Russian invasion almost 14 months ago, the Secretary General honored the fallen Ukrainian soldiers at the outer wall of the central St. Michael's Monastery in the morning. Further program items are still unknown. Alliance circles said that planned meetings would initially be kept secret for security reasons.
Possibly as a diversionary tactic, a meeting with Czech President Petr Pavel in Brussels was on Stoltenberg's public appointments calendar for Thursday evening until Tuesday evening. This was then moved to Wednesday afternoon at short notice. Immediately afterwards Stoltenberg should have made his way towards Ukraine.
Onward journey to Ramstein?
There was no information on the itinerary. As a rule, top politicians traveling to Kiev first fly to Rzeszow in south-eastern Poland. From there it usually goes to Przemysl. The station there has a track in Russian broad gauge, which is also used in Ukraine. Trains therefore run directly from Przemysl to Kiev. Flights to Ukraine are still considered too dangerous because of the dangers of the Russian war of aggression against the country.
Presumably directly from Ukraine, Stoltenberg will then travel to a meeting of the international contact group for the coordination of military aid to Ukraine. This will be organized this Friday at the US air force base in Ramstein, Rhineland-Palatinate. The Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov is also expected to attend the meeting in Germany. He could travel to Ramstein with Stoltenberg.
"Breaking the Cycle of Russian Aggression"
Stoltenberg has been a tireless supporter of Ukraine since the beginning of Russia's war of aggression and has continually campaigned for new arms deliveries to the Ukrainian armed forces. At a summit meeting of the eastern alliance states in Warsaw, the Norwegian recently spoke out in favor of showing Russia its borders once and for all. "We must not allow Russia to continue undermining European security," said the Norwegian at the time. One must "break the cycle of Russian aggression" and ensure "that history does not repeat itself".
Stoltenberg is also one of those politicians who have repeatedly shown themselves open to significantly greater support for Ukraine with Western weapon systems. When asked last year whether the Allies should meet the Alliance's capability targets rather than supplying Ukraine with more equipment, he made it clear last year that he considered a defeat by Ukraine to be more dangerous than NATO countries stocking weapons caches according to plan.
Most recently, Stoltenberg invited the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj to the upcoming NATO summit in Lithuania. "We look forward to meeting President Zelenskyy at our summit in Vilnius in July," he said in early April. The NATO summit will be organized in Lithuania's capital on July 11-12. It is still unclear whether the president of the country attacked by Russia will actually come.