World · June 20, 2022

Ukraine-Russia war: NATO’s Boris Johnson and Jens Stoltenberg say Western support for Kiev must not end

In separate comments published on Sunday, Stoltenberg and Johnson also reiterated that Western governments must continue to support Ukraine to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin’s future aggression.

Stoltenberg told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that no one knew how long the conflict would last, but “we have to prepare for the fact that it could take years”.

“We must not stop supporting Ukraine. Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, but also for the increase in energy and food prices.”

Boris Johnson, writing in the Sunday Times after his second visit to Kiev on Friday, said Western allies must “prepare for a long war, as Putin resorts to a campaign of attrition, trying to crush Ukraine with sheer brutality” .

Johnson said conquering all of Ukraine’s Donbas, which covers much of eastern Ukraine, had been Putin’s goal for the past eight years “when he ignited a separatist rebellion and launched his first invasion.”

Putin criticizes the West and declares the end of

While Russia was still short of this goal, “Putin may not realize it, but his grand imperial project for the total reconquest of Ukraine has been derailed. In his isolation, he can still think that total conquest is possible.”

Both men stressed the need to avert future Russian aggression.

Stoltenberg said: “If Putin learns the lesson from this war that he can simply continue as he did after the war in Georgia in 2008 and the occupation of Crimea in 2014, then we will pay a much higher price.”

Johnson asked what would have happened if President Putin was free to keep all areas of Ukraine now controlled by Russian forces. “What if no one was willing to lift a finger as he annexed this conquered territory and his fearful people into a larger Russia? Would that bring peace?”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the second time in Kiev on Friday.

Johnson said that through firm long-term support for Ukraine, “we and our allies will protect our security as much as Ukraine’s and safeguard the world from the deadly dreams of Putin and those who might try to copy them.”

Johnson wrote: “Time is the vital factor. It will all depend on whether Ukraine can strengthen its ability to defend its soil faster than Russia can renew its attack capacity. Our job is to recruit time. on the side of Ukraine “.

“Strategic advantage”

On Sunday, Ukrainian officials said heavy fighting continues in the city of Severodonetsk – the epicenter of the bloody battle for Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region – and in surrounding communities as Russian forces try to break resistance from Ukrainian defenders and capture parts of Luhansk. eastern region they do not already control.

Serhii Hayday, head of the regional military administration, said that “the battles for Severodonetsk continue” and that the vast chemical plant of Azot, where some 500 civilians take refuge, has been bombed again.

Smoke and dirt rise from the city of Severodonetsk on June 17.
A Ukrainian military man walks along an entrenched front-line position near Avdiivka, Donetsk region on June 18 /

The Russian operations appear to be designed to break the Ukrainian defenses south of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, cutting off the Ukrainian units that still defend the two strategically important cities.

To the west, in the Donetsk region, also in Donbas, the Ukrainian army reported further bombing of Ukrainian positions near Sloviansk. There was also a missile attack in the area, according to an operational update from the Ukrainian General Staff. But there appears to have been little change in frontline positions.

Stoltenberg was cautiously optimistic that Ukraine could turn the tide of the war. “Although the battle in the Donbass is being waged increasingly brutally by Russia, Ukrainian soldiers are fighting valiantly. With more modern weapons, the likelihood that Ukraine will be able to drive Putin’s troops out of the Donbas is increasing.”

The Ukrainian army burned Soviet-era ammunition that fit older systems. As Western weapons systems are arriving, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned this week that they needed to arrive faster as Russia amasses a significant artillery advantage around the two cities of eastern Ukraine.
The war in Ukraine reaches a pivotal moment that could bring about long-term results, intelligence officials say

US officials insist Western weapons are still flowing to the forefront of the battle. But local reports of arms shortages – and frustrated appeals from frontline Ukrainian officials – have raised doubts about the effectiveness of supply lines.

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it was providing an additional $ 1 billion in military aid to Ukraine, a package that includes shipments of additional howitzers, ammunition and coastal defense systems. While the UK “has plans to work with our friends to prepare Ukrainian forces to defend their country, with the potential to train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days,” Johnson said.

As Russia made incremental gains in eastern Ukraine, Johnson stressed the friction of Russian forces in crushing battles, saying Russia would need “years, possibly decades, to replace this hardware. And hour after hour Russian forces. they are consuming equipment and ammunition faster than their factories can produce. ”

In late May, Ukrainian officials said Russian units had been reinforced by off-duty Soviet-era T-62 tanks, which appeared to have been taken out of depots.

The British Prime Minister added: “The UK and our friends must respond by ensuring that Ukraine has the strategic resistance to survive and ultimately prevail.”

He outlined four essential steps to support Ukraine, which included: preserving the Ukrainian state, which includes: ensuring that the country receives “weapons, equipment, ammunition and training faster than the invader and developing its ability to use our help. “; a “long-term effort to develop” alternative air routes to overcome Russia’s “deadly death” on the Ukrainian economy by blocking its main export routes across the Black Sea.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote that a new strategy concept will be adopted at an upcoming NATO summit that will declare Russia as

This weekend, Zelensky visited the front line in the coastal city of Odesa and the southern city of Mykolaiv, both of which are Russian targets in his attempt to seize the Black Sea coast.

Johnson added that the Russian blockade of Black Sea ports meant that some “25 million tons of corn and wheat – the entire annual consumption of all LDCs – are piled up in silos across Ukraine.”

At the next NATO summit in Madrid, Stoltenberg said that a new strategy concept will be adopted “will declare that Russia is no longer a partner, but a threat to our security, peace and stability”.

He said that “the rattle of the Russian nuclear saber is dangerous and irresponsible. Putin must know that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be waged.”

CNN’s Tara John, Barbara Starr, Jeremy Herb, and Oren Liebermann contributed to this piece.