NATO chief warns against underestimating Russia

Ukraine’s failure to breach Russian lines for the last year demonstrates that NATO should “never underestimate Russia”, the bloc’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has cautioned.

Speaking to the press ahead of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, he was asked whether the US-led bloc would be able and willing to arm Ukraine for another counteroffensive against Russian forces in the spring.

Stoltenberg claimed that NATO members are “unwavering” in their commitment to Kiev, pointing to the “unprecedented” quantities of arms and equipment sent by these states to Ukraine, and to upcoming weapons deliveries – including air defense systems and fighter jets, as well as recent pledges by Germany and the Netherlands to commit a combined €10 billion (nearly $11 billion) in military aid to Kiev next year.

However, the NATO chief admitted that “even with this substantial, significant military support from NATO allies, [the Ukrainians] have not over the last year been able to move the front line”.

“And that just reflects the fact that we should never underestimate Russia,” he continued. “Their defense industry is on a war footing, they’re able to resupply their forces with ammunition and new capabilities…which makes it hard to achieve the territorial gains we hope for.”

Earlier in the press conference, the secretary-general rejected the notion that the conflict is currently at a “stalemate”, as the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, General Valery Zaluzhny, put it earlier this month. However, Stoltenberg said that the situation on the front line is “extremely difficult”, with “intense fighting” and “high casualty numbers”.

Ukraine’s long-promised counteroffensive failed to break Russia’s elaborate network of defensive fortifications, resulting in the deaths of at least 103,000 Ukrainian troops between early June and mid-November, according to the latest figures from the Russian Defense Ministry. In exchange for these losses, Ukraine managed to reclaim only 400 square kilometers out of more than 100,000 held by Russia, according to a report by French newspaper Le Monde last month.

Despite Stoltenberg’s insistence that “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin does not win this war,” Western officials are increasingly convinced that Ukraine cannot hope to recapture all of its former territory and will inevitably have to seek a peace deal with Russia, according to recent media reports. Nevertheless, President Volodymyr Zelensky maintains that he will not negotiate with the Kremlin, even as some aides reportedly view his belief in a military victory as “delusional”.

› Subscribe


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

More Articles