NATO Chief Stoltenberg Says Russia’s War In Ukraine Could Last Years

Forbes
Published 5 months ago
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

TOPLINE

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday that Russia’s war in Ukraine could last for years, but he urged countries to continue providing support to Ukraine, even as the war drags on for nearly four months and pushes up global food and energy prices.

KEY FACTS

Stoltenberg told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag “nobody knows” when the war will end, but supplying Ukraine with modern weapons would increase its chances of driving Russian forces out of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

The British Ministry of Defense said in a Sunday intelligence update that both Russian and Ukrainian troops are likely experiencing “variable morale” amid “intense conflict” in the Donbas, with both sides carrying out bombardments near the strategic eastern city of Severodonetsk.

Ukrainian soldiers have likely suffered desertions, according to the Ministry of Defense, but Russian troops’ morale is “especially troubled” as there have been cases of entire Russian units refusing orders and armed stand-offs between officers and their troops.

CRUCIAL QUOTE

Stoltenberg urged allies ”not to weaken support for Ukraine, even if the costs are high, not only in terms of military aid, but also because of the increase in energy and food goods prices,” according to an Associated Press translation. “The costs of food and fuel are nothing compared with those paid daily by the Ukrainians on the front line.”

KEY BACKGROUND

As Russia’s war in Ukraine nears its fourth month, Russia has shifted its goals to focus on consolidating control of the entire Donbas region—which consists of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces—after its attempts to capture large cities like Kyiv failed due to strong resistance from Ukrainian troops. Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas region had fought Ukrainian forces for years prior to the invasion, seizing control of large parts of the region after 2014. Intense fighting has continued for days in key cities like Severodonetsk, which if captured, would give Russia control of the entire Luhansk province.

BIG NUMBER

$5.6 billion. That’s how much security assistance the Biden Administration has sent to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February, Pentagon spokesperson J. Todd Breasseale said in a statement to Forbes last week. U.S. lawmakers also approved a $40 billion spending package last month that includes additional military and economic aid to Ukraine.

CHIEF CRITIC

Russia has criticized NATO’s support for Ukraine, which isn’t a member of the 30-country alliance but has expressed a desire to join. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the BBC last week Russia invaded Ukraine partly because of the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO—even though Ukraine didn’t appear to be on the cusp of joining the alliance. “We declared a special military operation because we had absolutely no other way of explaining to the West that dragging Ukraine into NATO was a criminal act,” Lavrov claimed.

FURTHER READING

NATO Boss Jens Stoltenberg – “The war could last years” (Bild am Sonntag)

By Anna Kaplan, Forbes Staff