The war in Ukraine could last “for years,” the NATO secretary-general warned in an interview published on Sunday, urging Western countries to show support for kyiv while it lasts.
“We have to be prepared for this to last for years,” said Jens Stoltenberg. “We must not waver in our support for Ukraine, even if the costs are high, not only in terms of military support but also in rising energy and food prices.”
However, Stoltenberg is of the opinion that with “more modern weapons” the chances of Ukraine expelling Russian troops from Donbas increase.
“Ukrainians are bravely defending themselves against the Russian invaders. Although the fighting in Donbas is being waged by Russia with increasing brutality, Ukrainian soldiers are putting up a valiant resistance. With more modern weapons, it increases the probability that Ukraine will again be able to expel (Vladimir) Putin’s troops from Donbas,” Stoltenberg said.
The NATO political chief assured that the Atlantic Alliance “will continue to support Ukraine in its self-defense”, but denied a possible interference in the conflict. “We are helping the country, but we will not send NATO soldiers to Ukraine,” he added.
“Dangerous and irresponsible”
“We secure the territory of the alliance by land, sea and air. This is a clear message to Moscow so that there are no misunderstandings about our preparation,” Stoltenberg said.
The former Norwegian prime minister recommended fearing Russia for “dangerous and irresponsible”, although he stated that there is “no higher level of readiness in the Russian nuclear forces”.
Stoltenberg asked, ahead of the summit in Madrid to be held at the end of June, that NATO stop considering Russia as an ally. “Let us declare that Russia is no longer a partner, but a threat to our security, to peace and stability,” he said.
He also pointed to China as a challenge to the interests of the countries that are part of the military alliance.
The secretary of the international organization took a position on the side of the Nordic countries in the debate on joining NATO.
“The membership applications are a historic moment that we must seize. Membership would not only strengthen Finland and Sweden, but all of us,” he said.
However, Stoltenberg explained that Ankara’s concerns are being taken “very seriously” and addressed, as Turkey has “strategic importance between Europe, Russia, Iraq and Syria.”