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West must prepare to support Ukraine in long war: NATO chief

23.03.2023 09:30
Russia has no immediate plans for peace in Ukraine and therefore the West needs to be ready to provide military assistance to Kyiv for a long time to come, NATO’s secretary-general has said.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary-General Jens StoltenbergPhoto: EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

Jens Stoltenberg issued the warning in an interview with The Guardian, published on the British newspaper’s website on Wednesday afternoon.   

The NATO head said Russian President Vladimir Putin was pursuing “a war of attrition.”

He added that the intense fighting for Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut showed Russia was prepared “to just throw in thousands and thousands more troops, to take many casualties for minimal gains.”   

According to Stoltenberg, Putin "doesn’t plan for peace, he’s planning for more war,” with Russia increasing military industrial production and “reaching out to authoritarian regimes like Iran or North Korea, and others to try to get more weapons.”

This means that the United States, Britain, France, Germany and other Western countries have to be prepared to assist Ukraine with arms, ammunition and spares “over a long time,” Stoltenberg told The Guardian.

He said: “The need will continue to be there, because this is a war of attrition; this is about industrial capacity to sustain the support.”

Stoltenberg added that he wanted NATO members to agree on spending 2 percent of GDP on defence “as a minimum” at the alliance’s summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius in July.

Zelensky visits frontline near Bakhmut

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday visited the eastern frontline near the embattled city of Bakhmut, where Ukrainian troops have been repelling Russian attacks for more than seven months, the British broadcaster BBC reported.

During his surprise visit, Zelensky “heard reports on the operational situation and the course of hostilities on the frontline” and “spoke with the servicemen and thanked them for the defence of Ukraine,” according to his office.

The Ukrainian president said: "I am honoured to be here today, in the east of our country, in Donbas, and to award our heroes, to thank you, to shake hands. Thank you for protecting the state, sovereignty, the east of Ukraine."

Zelensky also handed out medals to soldiers, according to news outlets.

Nine killed after Russian strikes on Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv region 

At least one person was killed and 33 injured by a Russian missile attack on two residential buildings in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, officials said on Wednesday. 

The strike caused an explosion and a large plume of smoke to rise from two nine-storey buildings, as shown by footage from a security camera which captured the moment of the attack, The Guardian reported. 

Residential areas “where ordinary people and children live are being fired at,” Zelensky said.

Meanwhile, at least eight people were killed overnight in a drone attack on Rzhyshchiv in Kyiv province, regional police chief Andrii Nebytov said on Wednesday. 

The strike hit a dormitory building and a school, according to reports. 

One of the people who died was “an ambulance driver who came to the call,” Ukraine’s state broadcaster Suspilne reported, as quoted by The Guardian.

Thursday is day 393 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, The Guardian, BBC, president.gov.ua