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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  May 25, 2022 4:30am-5:01am BST

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this is bbc news. i'm david eades. the headlines: 19 children and one teacher have been killed in a mass shooting at a primary school in texas. it happened at the robb elementary school, in uvalde, which is made up of a largely hispanic community. the pupils were between the ages of 7 and 10. police have released a photo of the gunman. he's been named as salvador ramos, who was shot dead by law enforcement officers. he is believed to have purchased two military—grade rifles and is suspected of killing his grandmother, before heading to the school to carry out the shootings. president biden has addressed the nation, saying it was time for the united states to do what needed to be done and stand up to the gun lobby.
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he said it was wrong that an 18 year—old could walk into a shop and buy assault weapons. now on bbc news, 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 tojoin. in kyiv, the message is different. nato, they say, has done little or nothing to help. my guest is nato secretary—general jens stoltenberg. are internal divisions undermining nato�*s ukraine response?
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secretary—general jens 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? so, first, i would like to just say that i have great respect for the government, the political leadership, president zelenskyy,
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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 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,
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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. of course, it's first and foremost the courage of the ukrainian forces that really
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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 hq, 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 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
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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 zelenskyyy 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, 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
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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, 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,
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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? i will not go through each individual ally, but all allies are providing support in different ways,
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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. zelenskyy just told the world 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
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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 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
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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. 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
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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. 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
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to decide, does that mean that you give president zelenskyy 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, we are supporting ukraine's right to self—defence. this is a country defending themselves against an invasion and the right for self—defence
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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 zelenskyy, 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. i think hardly anyone believed it was possible before the invasion and also
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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 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
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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 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
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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. 0ur 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, 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
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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 criminal and "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 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 criminaland "an architect of genocide"?
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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 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.
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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 to join 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 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.
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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 swedenjoining? it's not... ..abnormal or... it is actually normal that as part of accession processes in nato, allies raises 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.
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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. 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.
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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. 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
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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 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
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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. hello, again. tuesday was a very unsettled
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day, we had loads of showers across the whole of the uk, some impressive thunderclouds, this one spotted across the skies of west london, in acton, and there were reports of some hail, lots of thunder and lightning, and around kent we even had reports of a funnel cloud, that's like a tornado coming down, but doesn't quite reach the ground. although there were loads of showers, the thunderstorms really were concentrated across eastern areas of england. why? well, that was down to the jetstream. you see, we had this trough moving across eastern areas of england, that's what kicked up the showers and made those thunderstorms, whereas a ridge to the northwest meant the showers actually weren't very heavy at all. that trough feature has pinged all the way across into northeast europe, and looking at the charts for wednesday, a strong jetstream will be pushing in this set of weather fronts. the fronts themselves not particularly active by the time they get to eastern areas of england but it will be a blustery kind of day, certainly a different day compared with tuesday. northern ireland, western parts of england and wales, across scotland will push its way eastward,
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barely any rain left on by the time it reaches east anglia and south—east england, what follows is much brighter weather with sunshine and a few showers mainly across north—western areas. temperatures about 16—18 degrees celsius, it won't feel too bad in that strong may sunshine. looking at the weather picture through wednesday night, many of the showers will fade away, but then the cloud will start to rebuild in northern ireland, as we head into the first part of thursday morning, with that rain starting to make inroads here. now, this is another weather front off the atlantic, a tiny bit of uncertainty about where that is going, northern england and wales looks the favoured spots for seeing rain. scotland, sunshine and showers more likely and towards southern england, variable cloud but there will be some sunny spells coming and going here. temperatures, quite a range, cooler air getting in across scotland and northern ireland, highs just around 13—15 degrees for some, but warmer to the south—east, with temperatures up to 20. and towards the end of the week and the all—important weekend,
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this area of high pressure is going to be building in from the west. now, the weather is set to settle down, but we eventually are going to get some fairly brisk northerly winds, and those winds will feed in some showers to northern scotland at times, but otherwise a fair amount of dry weather with some sunny spells. that's the latest.
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this is bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. i'm mark lobel. another mass shooting in the united states. 19 children and one teacher have been killed at a primary school in texas. police later named the gunman as salvador ramos, who was shot dead. president biden said he was appalled by the attack. tonight, i asked the nation to pray for them, give the parents and siblings the strength in the darkness they feel right now. in other news: russia says it is ready for a prolonged conflict in ukraine. we report from the front line in the eastern—most region, luhansk. and the so—called �*partygate�* report into government breaches of lockdown rules is expected to be given to the uk's
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prime minister later.


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