Jacinda Ardern tells NATO Ukraine war must not fuel arms race, condemns Russia

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has told NATO leaders the war in Ukraine must not fuel an arms race.

In a historic speech at the NATO Leaders' Summit on Thursday morning (NZ time),  Ardern became the first New Zealand Prime Minister to address the event.

New Zealand is not a member of the alliance but was invited by NATO's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to show its "close partnership" with countries in the Pacific region.

Ardern crammed several heavy topics into her short three-minute speech, including the war in Ukraine, climate change and called for global nuclear disarmament.

The Prime Minister told NATO, New Zealand's attendance at the summit is an "important moment for our Pacific nation".
"It is a rare thing to have New Zealand represented at a NATO Summit," Ardern said.

"While we have worked together in theatres such as Afghanistan, and have been partners for just on a decade, today represents an important moment for our Pacific nation."

Ardern said New Zealand has a "fiercely held independent foreign policy" and was not at NATO to expand our "military alliances".

"We are also one of the oldest and most stable liberal democracies. But that does not mean we judge our foreign policy interventions based on political ideology, but rather, the simple concept that when our shared humanity is undermined, we all suffer," she said.

Ardern used her speech to NATO leaders to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Russia's actions are an affront to all of us. Not because this conflict should be characterised as a war of the West vs Russia, or even democracy vs autocracy, it is neither," Ardern said.

"Rather it's a war of Russia vs all those who hold a basic sense of humanity and chose to act on it. The war in Ukraine is also an affront to our multilateral institutions.

"Russia's use of its UN Security Council position to block consideration of the invasion is morally bankrupt. And demonstrates why we must continue to seek reform of the UN."

Jacinda Ardern arriving at the  Nato Leaders' Summit.
Jacinda Ardern arriving at the Nato Leaders' Summit. Photo credit: Newshub

The Prime Minister told NATO New Zealand has responded as a nation by implementing "unilateral sanctions for the first time ever" whilst also providing humanitarian aid and special visas for family members of Ukrainian citizens.

She used her speech to make an appeal to NATO leaders.

"In all of this, we stand alongside those who share our same values. And here I want to acknowledge the leadership shown by NATO," Ardern said.

"But I also come with a request: that we do not allow the legacy of the war in Ukraine to become an arms race, or an even more polarised and dangerous world.

"Our solidarity with Ukraine must be matched by an equal commitment to strengthen international institutions, multilateral forums, and disarmament."

The Prime Minister said it's important for her to hold other leaders to account, and not let the world fall back into past 'nuclear ways'.

"Some may observe this status [nuclear free] and assume us to have the naive privilege of such a position. I would argue, the world can't afford anything less," Ardern told NATO.

"This crossroads that the world finds itself at, should be the basis for us to put a halt in the production of weapons that create our mutually assured destruction because the alternative is unfathomable.

"And so, as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty convenes for its tenth review conference in August, I hope all members agree to send a strong message. Because if not now, when the threat is even greater, then when?"

Ardern is due to leave Madrid on Wednesday morning, and head to Brussels for meetings with the European Union.