Russia still able to continue fighting in Ukraine, NATO chief warns

    WORLD  30 November 2023 - 16:09

    Russia is not giving up on Ukraine and its warring capacity must not be underestimated, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Wednesday (November 29), amid a stalling Ukrainian counter-offensive and signs of Western fatigue after 640 days of war.

    “Russia has amassed a large missile stockpile ahead of winter and we see new attempts to strike Ukraine’s power grid and energy infrastructure, trying to leave Ukraine in the dark and cold,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels, according to Euractiv.

    “We must not underestimate Russia,” he warned, speaking after NATO foreign ministers met with their Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in the new cooperation format to discuss Kyiv’s path to membership.

    Kyiv’s Western allies have been pledging that financial and military support will not falter as other crises in the Middle East have recently diverted part of their attention.

    However, securing orders of weapons, especially missiles and ammunition, with the defence industry and pushing for faster production is not going quite as planned, three NATO diplomats told Euractiv, raising the question of whether the West can hold the line in the next months.

    One NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity, warned that Ukraine will “probably not” be able to expel all Russian troops from their territory before the end of 2024.

    Stoltenberg, for his part, highlighted that Vladimir Putin is showing no signs of fatigue. Putin, he said, “has a high tolerance for casualties” after losing already 300,000 people, and “has amassed a large missile stockpile ahead of winter”.

    “Russian aims in Ukraine have not changed,” he added.

    With winter approaching in Ukraine, “we see new attempts to strike Ukraine’s power grid and energy infrastructure, trying to leave Ukraine in the dark and cold,” Stoltenberg said.

    However, to achieve its goal, “Russia is becoming much more dependent on China; year by year, Moscow is mortgaging its future to Beijing”, Stoltenberg said, as evidence that  Moscow is looking for any means to stay the course on the battlefield in Ukraine.

    “Russia becomes more and more dependent on China for financing for the commodities and also keeping commodities for the defence industry,” he said, adding that “it is not able to export energy in the same way it did before, which makes it more dependent on China”.

    Kyiv’s allies have repeatedly cautioned Beijing against providing any military support to Russia and have threatened it with serious consequences if it did so.

    US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, talking to reporters after the NATO foreign ministers meeting, also referred to Russia using Iranian drones in Ukraine and North Korea supplying ”significant arms shipment”.

    Before attending the meeting, Ukraine’s Kuleba called on the defence industry to ramp up production and supply the Ukrainian armed forces with defence equipment, namely long-range missiles and ammunition.

    “To ensure the sustainability and the security in the trans-Atlantic area, the defence industry must ramp up production, align, and work together as one holistic complex of the Euro-Atlantic defence industry,” he said, repeating a call he first made in an interview with Euractiv last month.

    NATO members and other allies of Ukraine are preparing long-term security assurances for Kyiv, as the fight continues.

    “Every single [NATO member] expressed strong support,” Blinken said after the talks.

    “Some are questioning whether the United States and other NATO allies should continue to stand with [Ukraine] as we get to the second winter, but the answer here today is clear,” he added.

    “In some way, we must and we will continue to support Ukraine to ensure that Russia’s war of aggression remains a strategic failure.”

    Blinken also said that President Joe Biden’s administration is “looking to Congress” to approve the military aid package to Ukraine in “the coming weeks”.

    Caliber.Az

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