Ukraine war must not fuel arms race, Ardern tells NATO leaders

In an historic moment for Jacinda Ardern she addressed world leaders at the NATO leaders' summit in Spain's capital Madrid overnight.

The summit billed as “pivotal” to the future of the West’s Transatlantic defence alliance is taking place against the backdrop of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine – a conflict that has cost thousands of lives and upended European security.

Closed off to the media and the public the Prime Minister called for NATO members to not allow the legacy of the war to become an arms race.

Before delivering her speech the Prime Minister told NZ media this was an important moment for New Zealand to stand proudly on the values that we have held for decades.

In her speech Ardern urged, "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."

"New Zealand is a Pacific nation. Our region, bears the scars of decades of nuclear testing.

"It was because of these lessons that New Zealand has long declared itself proudly nuclear free. Some may observe this status and assume us to have the naive privilege of such a position. I would argue, the world can’t afford anything less.

"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 also spoke about the geo-political situation in the Pacific, singling out China as becoming "more assertive".

"In our neighbourhood we see the mounting pressure on the international rules-based order," Ardern said.

"We see attempts to disrupt and destabilise – even New Zealand is targeted by Russian mis & dis information.

"Separately China has in recent times also become more assertive and more willing to challenge international rules and norms.

"Here, we must respond to the actions we see. We must stand firm on the rules-based order, call for diplomatic engagement and speak out against human rights abuses at all times when and where we see them."