Russia’s battle in Ukraine could last decades, says Nato leader Stoltenberg

The conflict in Ukraine could last for years, the head of NATO stated on Sunday, as Russia intensified its attacks in response to the European Union’s recommendation that Kyiv becomes a candidate for membership.

Bild am Sonntag claimed that Jens Stoltenberg stated that delivering advanced equipment to Ukrainian soldiers would increase the likelihood of liberating the eastern part of Donbas from Russian control.

“We must prepare for the possibility that it will take years. We must continue to defend Ukraine, “The secretary-general of the military alliance, Stoltenberg, was cited as saying.

Even though the expenditures are high, not only for military support but also due to growing energy and food costs.

Boris Johnson, who visited Kyiv on Friday, also emphasized the need to prepare for a prolonged war.

This entailed ensuring “Ukraine received weaponry, equipment, ammunition, and training faster than the invader,” Johnson wrote in an editorial for the Sunday Times of London.

 

Time is the most crucial factor, he wrote. “Everything will rely on whether Ukraine can improve its ability to defend its territory before Russia can restart its offensive capabilities.”

On Friday, the European Commission proposed that Ukraine be granted candidate status, a recommendation that EU states are expected to accept at a conference this week.

This would put Ukraine on track to realize an unattainable goal before Russia’s invasion on February 24, even if membership could take years.

Increased attacks

Russian attacks on Ukrainian battlefields intensified.

The industrial city of Sievierodonetsk, a primary target in Moscow’s offensive to capture complete control of Luhansk, one of the two provinces comprising the Donbas, was once again subject to heavy artillery and rocket fire, according to the Ukrainian military.

“Russian forces will certainly be able to conquer Sievierodonetsk in the following weeks,” analysts at a Washington-based think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, wrote in a report. “However, they will have to concentrate most of their available resources in this limited area,” they added.

Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk nominated by Ukraine, stated on Ukrainian television: “All Russian assertions of sovereignty over the city are false. They rule the majority of the city, but not the entire city.”

Gadai stated on the Telegram messaging service that residential structures and private homes had been demolished in the twin city of Lysychansk across the river, adding, “People are dying on the streets and in bomb shelters.”

Just southeast of Sievierodonetsk, the Ukrainian military acknowledged that “the enemy achieved a partial victory in settlement of Metolkine.”

The Russian state news agency TASS reported that many Ukrainian fighters had surrendered near Metolkine, citing a separatist source.

Russian missiles struck a gasworks in the northwest region of Izyum. According to Ukrainian authorities, rockets falling on a suburb of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, caused a fire but no injuries.

On Sunday, a gasoline storage facility in the eastern city of Novomoskovsk burst, killing one and injuring two, after being struck by three Russian missiles, according to an online post from the head of the regional government.

Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield reports independently.

According to TASS, two top commanders of fighters who guarded the Azovstal steel complex in Mariupol have been taken to Russia for investigation.

Zelensky defiant

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had visited soldiers on the southern frontline in the Mykolaiv region, some 550 kilometers south of Kyiv. Zelensky’s defiance has inspired his nation and earned him global admiration.

“I spoke with our defenders — the military, the police, and the National Guard,” he said in a Sunday video that looked to have been filmed on a moving train and posted on the Telegram messaging service.

 

“Their disposition is confident; none of them question our win,” Zelenskiy remarked. We will not cede the south to anyone, and we will reclaim everything ours.

Another video showed Zelenskiy in his signature khaki T-shirt handing out awards to service members and posing for photographs with them.

Since Russia’s invasion, Zelenskiy has primarily remained in Kyiv, although in recent weeks, he has made surprise visits to Kharkiv and two eastern cities close to hostilities.

One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated objectives in sending soldiers into Ukraine was to block the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance’s eastward expansion and keep Moscow’s southern neighbor outside of the West’s sphere of influence.

However, the war, which has killed thousands, destroyed towns, and forced millions to leave, has had the opposite effect, encouraging Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership and paving the way for Ukraine’s EU membership application.