The war in Ukraine could last for years, the NATO secretary general said in an interview with the German newspaper Bild published on Sunday (19). “We must not abandon our support for Kiev,” said Jens Stoltenberg.
More than 110 days after the Russian invasion began, he advocated maintaining aid regardless of high economic and political costs. “That price is nothing compared to what Ukrainians pay,” he said, adding that the consequences would be far greater in the event of a Russian victory.
“Modern weapons increase Ukraine’s chance of repelling troops from [Vladimir] Putin in the Donbass,” continued the head of the western military alliance, citing eastern Ukraine where self-proclaimed breakaway republics are located and where Moscow has focused its attacks over the past few weeks.
The Russians again claimed that the Severodonetsk offensive, located in Lugansk, was successful. The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Metiolkine region, on the outskirts of the city, had been taken over, information that could not be independently verified.
In a war of narratives, Kiev also claimed to have succeeded in stopping the advance of Russian troops on the outskirts of Severodonetsk, in the Tochkivka region. “All the statements by the Russians that they control the city are lies,” Governor Serhii Haidai wrote on a messaging app.
The speeches of the Secretary General of NATO to the German newspaper are similar to statements made by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, on Saturday (18). He, who made a surprise visit to Kiev the day before, said that “Ukraine fatigue” was brewing. But he stressed, “At this point, it’s important to show that we’re with them for the long term, that we’re giving them the strategic resilience they need.”
A similar speech was given by German Chancellor Annalena Baerbock in May, when she said that the West is tired of the conflict. “We have reached a moment of fatigue,” she said, quickly adding that this is precisely what Moscow wants. A recent survey revealed that this feeling also comes from Europeans. A survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations showed that around 35% say they prefer an end to the conflict even if Ukraine has to give in to Russian demands.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video on Sunday in which he describes his country’s troops as confident. “Looking into their eyes, it’s obvious that they don’t doubt our victory,” he said after meeting soldiers in Mikolaiv and Odessa, in the south of the country.
“We will not hand the south over to anyone, the sea will be Ukrainian and safe,” Zelensky continued, referring to successive Russian attempts to use Ukrainian ports to ship grain. To do so, Moscow has demanded that Kiev remove mines and demilitarize the areas, in what the Ukrainian government says is an attempt to attack the country from the south.
domestic consequences in europe
As a direct result of the war, Germany also announced this Sunday a package of emergency measures to meet its energy needs and reduce its dependence on gas coming from Russia. The main point revolves around coal, a fossil fuel that will be prioritized again for now.
“This is a painful measure, but essential to reduce gas consumption,” Finance and Climate Action Minister Robert Habeck of the Greens said in a statement. “The situation is serious.”
The announcements come after deliveries by Russian giant Gazprom via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline were reduced by 40% this week. Moscow alleges technical infrastructure problems, but Berlin attributes the drop in supplies to a Russian political decision in response to European Union (EU) support for Kiev. Other nations, such as France, were also affected accordingly.
The German decision could have domestic implications, as it marks a policy shift by the ruling coalition formed by the social democrat SPD, which includes Prime Minister Olaf Scholz, the Greens and the liberal FDP and which has pledged to reduce coal use by 2030.
In Italy, the shipment of weapons to Kiev has deepened the rift in the 5 Star Movement, a party to which Chancellor Luigi Di Maio belongs. The minister, who has seen his leadership challenged, accused supporters of undermining efforts by Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government to support Ukraine and weakening Rome’s position in the EU.
“This is an immature attitude that tends to create tensions and instability within the government,” he said in a statement. The government faces a vote in Parliament on Tuesday (21) on Ukraine, and members of the 5 Star Movement are articulating to limit the shipment of weapons.