NATO chief, on unannounced Kyiv visit, says arms flows to Ukraine will increase

KYIV (Reuters) - NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg told Ukrainians on Monday that his alliance’s members had failed to live up to their promises of military aid in recent months, but said the flow of arms and ammunition would now increase.

In an unannounced visit to Ukraine, the secretary general of the transatlantic military alliance held talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and was due to address Ukraine’s parliament, the Rada.

His visit – the third since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 - comes at a difficult time on the battlefield for Ukraine. After a failed Ukrainian counter-offensive last year, Russian forces have gained the initiative – at least in part due to a dearth of arms and ammunition from Kyiv’s Western partners.

“I will also be very honest with President Zelenskiy and also with the Rada that NATO allies have not delivered what we have promised over the last months,” Stoltenberg said on the train taking him into Kyiv on Monday.

“The United States spent six months to agree a package and European allies have not delivered the ammunition we promised. But now I’m confident that things will change,” he said.

Stoltenberg pointed to the U.S. Congress now having approved a Ukraine aid package worth more than $60 billion, swiftly signed into law by President Joe Biden, and an announcement last week by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of a “record high” commitment to Kyiv.

He also noted Germany had agreed to provide a new Patriot air defence system to Ukraine and the Netherlands had boosted its aid to Kyiv. He said he expected other "new commitments to come".

"This will make a difference – as the lack of support made a difference,” he said, alluding to Ukrainian setbacks on the battlefield.

He said the Russians had paid "a high price for marginal territorial gains" and Ukraine could still turn things around.

"It's not too late for Ukraine to prevail. But that’s why it's so urgent that NATO allies now actually do what we had promised and that we turn those commitments into real deliveries of weapons and ammunition and I’m now confident that will now happen.”

(Reporting by Andrew Gray; Editing by Andrew Heavens)