The war in Ukraine could last for years, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday, urging Ukrainian allies to support them as Russian forces battle for territory in the east of the country.
Stoltenberg said providing state-of-the-art weaponry to Ukrainian troops would increase the chances of liberating the eastern Donbass region from Russian control, according to the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
After failing to take Ukraine’s capital Kiev early in the war, Russian forces focused their efforts on trying to complete control of Donbass, which already had parts in the hands of Russian-backed separatists before the February 24 invasion.
“We need to prepare ourselves for the fact that [a guerra] it can take years. We cannot give up supporting Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said, according to the newspaper. “Even if the costs are high, not just in military support, but also in rising energy and food prices.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who visited Kiev on Friday with a proposal to train Ukrainian forces, also said on Saturday that it was important for the UK to provide long-term support, warning the risk of “saturation of Ukraine”, with the war dragging on.
In an op-ed in London’s Sunday Times, Johnson said this meant ensuring that “Ukraine receives weapons, equipment, ammunition and training faster than the invader.”
One of the main objectives of Moscow’s offensive to seize control of the Lugansk region — one of the two provinces that make up the Donbass — is the industrial city of Severodonetsk.
Russia said Sunday that the attack on the city was advancing successfully.
Lugansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian television that the fighting made it impossible to evacuate people from the city, but that “all claims by Russia that they control the city are a lie. They control the main part of the city, but not the whole city.”
Russia has said it has launched what it calls a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbor and protect Russian-speaking people in that country from dangerous nationalists. Kiev and its allies rejected this justification as a baseless pretext for a war of aggression.
Ukraine received encouragement on Friday when the European Commission recommended it have candidate status, a decision EU nations are expected to endorse at a meeting next week.
Copyright © Thomson Reuters.