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North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has urged the West to prepare to continue supporting Ukraine, saying the war could prolong for years.
“The cost of war is high,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also warned of a prolonged war.
Britain’s new commander-in-chief, General Patrick Sanders, who has been in office since last week, has made it clear that Britain and its allies must prepare themselves for a ground war against Russian forces.
In an internal conversation confirmed by the BBC, Sanders said: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine further clarifies our core objective: to protect Britain and to be prepared to fight and win on the ground.”
“The need to be able to deter Russian aggression with a military threat is also being emphasized,” he said.
Meanwhile, Secretary-General Stoltenberg and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said more arms aid to the Ukrainian army could help Ukraine win.
The secretary-general said in an interview with Germany’s Bild that “we have to be prepared for the fact that this war could prolong for years to come.”
“We should not reduce our aid to Ukraine, even if it costs not only military aid but also increases in energy and food prices,” he said.
He also argued that state-of-the-art weapons assistance to Ukraine could help defeat Russia in the eastern Donbas region. Currently, most of Donbas is controlled by the Russian Army.
Russia and Ukraine have been fighting fiercely for control of the Donbas region over the past few months, while Russian troops have been gradually expanding their control over the past few weeks.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Johnson said in an article for the British Sunday Times that Russian President Vladimir Putin was leaning on “a war of attrition” and “relentlessly trying to bring down Ukraine”.
He wrote, “I think we have to prepare for a prolonged war. Time is an important factor. Everything will depend on whether the Ukrainian army can strengthen its territorial defense capabilities faster than the speed with which the Russian army is realigning its ranks.”
Prime Minister Johnson, who visited Ukraine’s capital Kiiu on the 17th, said that support for Ukraine’s weapons, equipment, ammunition, and training should be done faster than the rate of reorganization of the Russian army.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian side has been actively speaking about the need for additional support for heavy weapons in recent days.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Olexi Rezhnikov requested more weapons and ammunition from more than 50 participating countries at a meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Liaison Group held in Brussels, Belgium on the 15th.
Western countries have provided major weapons so far, but they have only received a small fraction of the weapons needed to defend their territory.
Meanwhile, while Russia has often criticized NATO’s military support for Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the BBC last week that the very possibility that Ukraine might join the western NATO alliance was the reason for the invasion in the first place.
“Russia has declared a special military operation because there is no other way to explain to the West that bringing Ukraine into NATO is a crime,” Lavrov said in an interview.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO and has expressed its intention to join, but there is no official timeline for this.
Other events unfolding are as follows:
- Ukraine’s Interior Ministry aide Vadim Denisenko said Russia is trying to make the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv a “front line”.
- A bill that prohibits Russian music from being played or performed in the mass media or in public places has been unanimously passed by the Ukrainian parliament. Imports of books from Belarus, Russia’s main ally, are also banned.
- In case Russia further cuts or suspends natural gas supplies, Germany said it was planning a number of emergency measures related to energy supply, including increased coal use.
- Ben Stiller, a famous Hollywood actor and UNHCR goodwill ambassador, visited Poland and Ukraine.