Ukrainian tanks train on the territory of the country. Photo/REUTERS
BRUSSELS – Western countries must prepare for a “long war” in Ukraine, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday (17/9/2023).
Despite claiming to want a “quick peace” in Ukraine, Stoltenberg insisted he still supports President Volodymyr Zelensky’s goal of achieving military victory over Russia.
“Most wars last longer than expected when they first start,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with Germany’s Funke media group.
He explained, “We must therefore prepare ourselves for a long-term war in Ukraine.”
According to media reports over the past two months, Western military officials and planners have acknowledged Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces would likely be unsuccessful, leaving the front lines largely unchanged as winter arrives.
According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine has lost more than 71,000 troops since the counteroffensive began in June.
Despite the level of troop reductions being huge, with some units losing 90% of their manpower, according to Ukrainian sources, Stoltenberg insisted NATO would continue to push for a military solution, not a diplomatic one.
“We all hope for peace as soon as possible,” Stoltenberg said. “But at the same time we must realize: if President Zelensky and Ukraine stop fighting, their country will no longer exist. If President Putin and Russia lay down their arms, we will achieve peace.”
After abandoning a Turkey-brokered peace deal last April, Zelensky issued a decree banning all negotiations with Russia.