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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  May 24, 2022 12:30am-1:01am BST

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this is bbc news. we will have the headlines and all the many news stories for you at the top of the hour as newsday continues straight after hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. vladimir putin's ukraine invasion has presented nato with its greatest challenge in a generation. at nato hq, they claim support for ukraine has unified and reinvigorated the alliance to the point where sweden and finland urgently want to join. in kyiv, the message is different.
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nato, they say, has done little or nothing to help. my guest is nato secretary—generaljens stoltenberg. are internal divisions undermining nato's ukraine response? secretary—generaljens stoltenberg, at nato headquarters in brussels, welcome to hardtalk. thank you so much for having me, stephen. it's a pleasure to have you on the show. i've got to begin with the stinging comments just a couple of days ago from ukraine's foreign minister, dmytro kuleba, who said that nato had in effect done nothing to help ukraine. what's your response to that?
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so, first, i would like tojust say that i have great respect for the government, the political leadership, president zelensky, prime minister, kuleba and ukrainian people for what they are able to demonstrate, their courage and unity, standing up against the russian putin—led invasion of ukraine. nato allies and nato have supported ukraine for many years. since 2014, tens of thousands of ukrainian troops have been trained and especially the united states, canada, the united kingdom and turkey has provided also training and critical equipment, which is now making a huge difference on the front line at the battlefield every day. and since the invasion, all the nato allies have also stepped up their support, so nato and nato allies are providing unprecedented support for ukraine and we are ready to do
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so for the long haul. i think mr kuleba's point is that, yes, individual nations, no doubt, led by the united states, are giving increased amounts of military and other support to ukraine, but as an institution, as a coherent group of 30 members, mr kuleba sees increasing division and real disagreement about what should be the level of support for ukraine. well, nato as an institution has also provided support for ukraine for many years, but as always when nato do things, we actually do it very often as individual allies. we had our mission in afghanistan and most of that, the troops and the capabilities there, was provided by individual allies, so this is also very much the way nato works, is that we are totally dependent on the contributions from different individual allies for different missions, operations and activities we do in different ways, so nato allies and nato provide support for ukraine.
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of course, it's first and foremost the courage of the ukrainian forces that really makes the difference on the battleground, but i think everyone wants to see the equipment, the training, supplies getting from the united states and other nato allies is also of great importance. we'll get to the differing approaches taken within your membership to support in a moment, but i want your assessment of the battlefield. you are at nato ho, you've got all sorts of intelligence analysts looking at what's unfolding, particularly in the east of ukraine day by day. what is your latest assessment of the balance on the battlefield? wars are always hard to predict and even though we have access to a lot of intelligence and we are monitoring and following developments on the battlefield very
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closely, i'm very careful about predicting. what we have seen is that ukraine has been able to push back the putin—led troops, the russian troops, around kyiv. that was a huge victory for ukraine. and then also around kharkiv and that ukrainian offensive in donbas has stalled. but heavy fighting is going on. we see that russia is pushing in more and more weapons, soldiers and equipment, so this is a dangerous situation, it is an undecided situation and therefore, allies are ready to provide continued support to ukraine. president zelensky said that up to 100 of his soldiers are dying every day right now, particularly in those fierce battles in the luhansk oblast. that's not sustainable in the long term, so they need for you to send more weapons,
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heavier weapons, is very urgent, but it does not seem as though many of your members see that urgency. i always understand the need for stepping up and doing even more. allies have stepped up and we are constantly considering what more we can do to support ukraine in upholding the right for self—defence. nato is also of course active in... we call it the ramstein group, the support group that was established at the airbase at ramstein, where nato allies and also some partners co—ordinate their efforts and the message has been that we need to also provide more advanced and large scale support to ukraine and that is what has taken place. there is no way... it hasn't though, has it, mr secretary—general? it hasn't taken place in many instances. one can look at the united states, with their massive new assistance programme, some $40 billion, much of it military assistance,
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the united kingdom, over two billion euros�* worth of military assistance already, then one can look at very significant military powers like france within the nato membership, where as i understand it, military aid amounts tojust 160 million euros. france has 7,000 armoured vehicles. the number they have supplied to ukraine so far, zero. now, you have the bully pulpit. you are the secretary—general of nato. what is your message right now to the french? my message to all allies is that we should provide support to ukraine and i welcome that allies have provided support and continue to provide support and that we also discuss how we can co—ordinate efforts and make sure that we are helping also ukraine to move from old soviet era equipment to more modern nato standard equipment... why are countries like france and italy not listening to you, then?
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i will not go through each individualally, but allallies are providing support in different ways, both military support, financial and humanitarian support, and nato allies are, together with the european union, imposing heavy sanctions on russia, sanctions we have not seen anything similar to for decades, or in any similar situation before. well, you know again, on sanctions, it's not necessarily nato's immediate remit, but you have to look at the overall political climate. you know on sanctions, while some countries like poland and bulgaria have absolutely refused to bow to putin's demand that they pay for energy in roubles, others, including major energy companies in germany and italy it now seems are quite prepared to pay in roubles. zelensky just told the world
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economic forum that financial and other economic sanctions have to be ramped up now to make a real difference in this conflict. what is your view, again, of why so many european members of nato appear unready to do that? the sanctions are imposing heavy costs on russia, making it harder for russia to finance this reckless and brutal war. at the same time, i think we have to be honest that when it comes to energy, that has proven to be a particular challenge because too many european allies are too dependent on russian energy. therefore, they are working hard on how to reduce energy dependencies on russian oil, gas, coal and all the progress they are making, of course, we welcome that. we also welcome the coordination between nato allies and the european union to make sure that we are making more progress on those imposing
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sanctions on energy. isn't the truth, which perhaps you don't really want to engage with, that there is a fundamental difference within your membership between those countries who want to go for an all—out ukrainian victory, to quote the british foreign secretary liz truss — she wants to see all ukrainian territory liberated and she appeared quite clearly to mean the donbas and crimea as part of that... a difference between that position and the position of, let's say, france, where emmanuel macron�*s focus is, to quote him, on not humiliating vladimir putin. that's the reason why we can talk about all of the differences and divisions within nato, isn't it? but... but of course when we are 30 allies, you will always find different views, nuances, perspectives on big challenges, challenging situations as we see in ukraine.
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but this isn't... mr secretary general, this isn't nuance, because depending on how you see the endgame in this conflict, that depends on how much assistance you're prepared to offer to ukraine. and it's quite clear that the french version of what the endgame is going to look like is very different from that, for example, of the united states, where the defence secretary, lloyd austin, said, "we need to weaken putin and his regime to a point "when they can never, ever again contemplate "doing something like this invasion." but my main message is that despite differences, we all agree on the main message to russia and ukraine, russia, that we impose heavy sanctions and ukraine, that we are there to support them and we support ukraine's sovereignty. and we also totally trust their ability to take the decisions on, for instance, when and how to engage in negotiations with russia and what kind of solutions they can accept.
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that's for ukraine to decide. what we should do is to support ukraine militarily, economically, financially and in many other ways. when you say it's for ukraine to decide, does that mean that you give president zelensky and his government, in a sense, the right to define exactly when and how this war should end? and if he says, "we push on with this war, "we don't negotiate, we continue until we've liberated "every inch of our territory, including crimea, then nato will back him and nato will offer open—ended, massive military assistance until that is achieved. is that what you're telling me? the nato has supported ukraine since 2014. nato allies have provided equipment, training, support, financial and other types of support, and also actually impose sanctions on russia since 2014. and we are ready to continue and have stepped up support to ukraine. we discuss and address these issues together and what we are doing,
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we are supporting ukraine's right to self—defence. this is a country defending themselves against an invasion and the right for self—defence is enshrined in the un charter, so of course, we support that, right? right, but if you're prepared then to back with this military assistance that you're talking about, in an open—ended fashion, back maximalist positions defined by zelensky, you're going to find that some of your member states have a major problem with their domestic public opinion. i'm looking at opinion polls coming out of italy, which say that only 26% of italians think that, right now, america, with its massive arming of ukraine, is defending democracy and europe. only a quarter, 24% of italians, think that sending more weapons to ukraine is the right thing to do. are you worried about public opinion in europe? well, we have seen this a very strong unity across europe, across the political spectrum, across countries in providing support ukraine.
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i think hardly anyone believed it was possible before the invasion and also imposing sanctions... but what about my question about the nature of public opinion in some significant nato member states like italy, which is clearly against ramping up military assistance to give more and more weapons to ukraine? it seems the majority of people, in a country like italy, don't think that is the right thing to do. what they want to see is a very quick turn to dialogue, negotiation and some sort of peace settlement. but also, italy has been part of the sanctions. also, italy has been part of the efforts by nato allies and the european union to provide support to ukraine. and we don't speak about maximalist demands — we speak about a country's right to defend itself. and that's what we are
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helping ukraine to do. and that's, in a way, obvious that we should do, because this is about the rules based international order, where we respect the sovereignty of each and every nation and also the right of each and every nation to choose some path, including what kind of security arrangements it wants to be part of. that's exactly what president putin is violating. in the early weeks of the war, there was a great deal of talk and concern about the possibility of russia using nuclear weapons. putin put his nuclear forces on a higher state of readiness, we had sergey lavrov, the foreign minister, warning against nato's provoking a third world war, saying the nuclear possibility should not be underestimated. is that something you still consider on a daily basis or is it your analysis that, actually, a lot of that was bluff and there is no sign whatsoever that russia is contemplating the use of a nuclear weapon? russia has not changed their nuclear posture. at the same time, the nuclear
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rhetoric is dangerous. it's reckless and irresponsible. and russia has actually agreed they did that early this year, that a nuclear war should never be fought and cannot be won. and therefore, it is reckless what russia is doing, just to talk about the potential use of nuclear weapons, the way they have done over the last weeks and months. our response is to strengthen our deterrence and defence, including by more nato troops in the eastern part of the alliance. tens of thousands of troops on the nato command, backed by ships and planes, to remove any room for miscalculation or misunderstanding in moscow about nato's readiness to protect and defend all allies. we have two responsibilities. one is to support ukraine — we do, and the other is to prevent this war from escalating to a fully—fledged war between russia and nato. would you talk to vladimir putin right now or do you regard him, now,
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as a war criminal? and, as they've said in the united states and some other capitals, "an architect of genocide"? because if you think that, then, presumably, you would not believe he'd be a leader that you could talk to and do business with. which is it for you — a man to talk to or a man who can no longer be talked to? as we worked hard for a diplomatic solution before this war broke out, or before the russian invasion, but that didn't... russia was not engaging in good faith. but still... do you see putin as a war criminaland "an architect of genocide"? as what we have seen is a violation of international law. we have seen...war crimes taking place, including by deliberate killing of civilians... yeah, yeah, no, i... it is for the international criminal... i know all that, we've all seen the pictures. i'm just asking you a very direct question about you, you're the secretary general of nato, you're a man
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of power and influence, a significant figure in whatever happens next in this ukraine crisis. i'll ask one more... i mean, do you regard vladimir putin as a war criminal and "an architect of genocide"? that's for the international criminal court to make the final decisions on that. what we do, nato analysts do, is to help to collect evidence and to support all efforts to establish a judicial process and to make this an issue for, for instance, the international criminal court. then, of course, it's also extremely important that we make sure that russia cannot, with impunity, continue to act the way they have acted in ukraine. and that's the reason why we also provide all the support to ukraine. the russian narrative, of course, is that all of this, and their invasion, was prompted and caused by nato expansionism. is ukrainian membership of nato now a dead issue? are you now saying it's never going to happen? what i'm saying is that our
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focus now is on support to ukraine, to address the urgent and immediate challenge of stopping putin's war, to support them upholding the right for self—defence. that's our focus now. and then, the issue of membership has to be addressed after that. do you think, in terms of membership... of course, ukraine looks at what's happened in sweden and finland and is, of course, bitterly resentful that when they decide they want tojoin nato, they're rushed in and it seems you're going to finalise their membership probably by the end of the summer. do you think that is a wise thing to do, given that putin and lavrov are already saying that they regard that as provocation? and to quote the defence minister in moscow, "will be greeted with countermeasures" — is that wise at this point? i think it's very wise to stand up for some values and some principles for our security. all nato allies agree that enlargement of nato over
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decades has helped to spread democracy, ensure peace and stability across europe. and it's an historic thing that finland and sweden applies for membership. this is not directed against anyone. it's not an aggressive action. nato's a defensive alliance, but we, of course, respect the right for finland and sweden to choose their own path, including the right for them to apply for nato membership. yeah, it won't work, of course, unless you have unanimity amongst your membership. and mr erdogan in turkey has already said it is not possible for us to be in favour. he describes, quote, "scandinavian countries as guest houses "for terrorist organisations". i know you've just spoken to him in the last couple of days, is turkey now ready to lift its veto on finland and sweden joining? it's not... ..abnormal or... it is actually normal that as part of accession processes in nato, allies raises
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different types of concerns. and turkey has raised some concerns, related to the security interests, the fight against terrorism and, of course, then we do, as we always do in nato, we sit down and we look for common ground. we need to recognise... as of right now — just really simple yes or no — is turkey still saying it cannot support and will not support swedish and finnish entry into nato? turkey is still saying that they have some concerns that they have raised with all the nato allies and, of course, also raised with finland and sweden. we are addressing them, i'm in constant and regular contact with the turkish political leadership, and, as i said, also president erdogan, and i welcome the fact that there are contacts between ankara, stockholm and helsinki, and i'm confident that we'll find ways to address these concerns. before we end, i have to broaden the picture a little bit and talk about nato in the context of other global challenges.
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joe biden, as you know, is on an asia tour right now, and he appeared to suggest, in a very recent statement to the media, that the us will intervene militarily to defend taiwan if it comes under attack from china. now of course, the united states is the most important member of your organisation. if there were to be a war involving the united states and china, then, i assume under article 5, nato would get involved. is that something that, never mind what's happening in ukraine, that nato is actively now strategically planning for — war with china? well, nato will remain a regional alliance, north america and europe, but this region, the north atlantic region, faces global threats and challenges, and that includes the rise of china. china is the second largest... let's not get too stuck on north atlantic. i mean, you just sent forces for years into afghanistan, so i'm asking you whether, you know, all of these pressures and a new generation of conflict with russia, you're also now strategically planning for potential conflict with china.
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we are planning for protecting and defending all nato allies against any potential threats and challenges and therefore, we also need to address the security consequences of china... china investing heavily in new modern nuclear capabilities, china coming closer to us, we see them in the arctic, in africa, we see them trying to control critical infrastructure and also china, for the first time, actually aligning with saying that there should be no further nato enlargement. so, of course, all of this matters for our security and therefore, china has to be part of what we are addressing. and a final thought, then, if you consider how beijing might be watching nato right now, they saw the rather messy withdrawal from afghanistan, which ended with the taliban back in power, they see divisions emerging in nato over what to do in ukraine, with regard to putin and russia, do you think nato is projecting a really coherent and credible and strong image
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to the world right now? yes, because nato has proven, for decades, that we are by far the strongest and most successful alliance in history, and we are that, not despite, but actually because the fact that we represent different countries. we are 30 different allies from both sides of the atlantic with different history, different culture, different political parties in power. and also sometimes, we disagree, but actually, we are always able to unite around our core task, and that is to protect and defend each other. and that's exactly also what we do now. jens stoltenberg, we have to end there, but thank you very much indeed forjoining me on hardtalk. thank you. thank you so much.
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hello. after a wet night across parts of england and wales, keep the umbrellas handy wherever you are during tuesday. there will be some sunny spells. it won't be wet all the time, but you may never be too far away from a shower that could be heavy, possibly thundery. now, low pressure is beginning to edge away. we have a flow of air coming in from the west—northwest to the uk. it is unstable, so along with those sunny spells, there will be some big clouds building at times with those showers breaking out. away from central, southeast and eastern england, where it could still be quite wet first thing, quite a bit of dry weather early on, probably chillest across western scotland, a few spots in low single figures. just wait for the showers to break out. after the rain's cleared away from the eastern side of england, hints of brightness, and then the showers break out here as well, so you can see them coming through. they will be accompanied by gusty winds. as mentioned earlier, it doesn't mean it's going to be raining all the time, we mayjust have a brief shower
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and then a lengthy dry and bright spell afterwards. temperatures 12 celsius in stornoway, 18 celsius in london. most around 14—17 celsius, not too far from average for the time of year, perhaps a little bit below. a lot of dry weather to end the day as the showers fade away, but then overnight and into wednesday, from west then pushing eastwards, there will be some cloud and outbreaks of rain, which means as wednesday begins, the lower temperatures mid single figures in a few spots where you have the clearer skies across the eastern side of england. so this latest batch of wet weather will push on through, mainly during wednesday morning, not much rain, though, into the early afternoon into east anglia and southeast england, whereas elsewhere, it brightens up again, and it will be another afternoon of sunshine and scattered showers. temperatures pretty similar. wednesday is going to be a windier day, some gusts in excess of 40 mph, parts of scotland, northern england, perhaps the south coast of england as well. now, high pressure trying to build in for thursday,
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not having much success, as another weather front snakes its way in from the atlantic. it does mean there will be quite a bit of cloud around on thursday, some outbreaks of rain pushing in, some heavy showers in northern scotland. ahead of the system towards the southeast, although expected to cloud over, we mayjust see a few sunny spells, enough to lift temperatures back in a few spots into the low 20s, whereas elsewhere, it's as you were. now, high pressure does move in friday, and at least into the start of the weekend, settling things down. although it is high pressure, though, that will not translate into warmth.
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welcome to newsday, reporting live from singapore. i'm karishma vaswani. the headlines: the un calls russia's blockade of ukraine "a declaration of war on global food security" that could push tens of millions into severe hunger. it will have extraordinary consequences. we are already facing the worst food crisis since world war ii. ukraine's first war crimes trial ends with a life sentence for a russian soldier. that's as a russian diplomat resigns, saying the war�*s made him ashamed of his country. new calls for british prime minister borisjohnson to resign as more images of lockdown gatherings at downing street come to light. and president biden is to meet leaders of australia, india, and japan for a summit
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aimed at countering china's growing influence in the region.


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