The conflict in Ukraine could last two years, warns NATO

The war in Ukraine could continue for years, but the West must maintain its determination in the face of Russian aggression, the NATO chief warned.

In an interview with the German weekly Bild am Sonntag, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said “no one knows” how long the war could last.

“We have to be prepared for it to last for years,” he said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that Ukraine could last for years. (AP)

He also urged allies not to “weaken support for Ukraine, even if the costs are high, not only in terms of military aid, but also because of rising energy and food prices.”

In recent days, Gazprom, the Russian gas company, has reduced its supply to two major European customers: Germany and Italy.

Stoltenberg stressed, however, that “the costs of food and fuel are nothing compared to those paid daily by frontline Ukrainians.”

Stoltenberg added: “Furthermore, if Russian President Vladimir Putin achieves his goals in Ukraine, as when Crimea was annexed in 2014, we would have to pay an even higher price.”

His words were echoed by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson.

Writing in the Sunday Times after his second visit to Kyiv on Friday, Johnson said Western allies must “prepare us for a long war while Putin resorts to a campaign of attrition, trying to crush Ukraine with pure brutality.” Firefighters are working at the scene of a fire following Russian bombings in Mykolaiv, eastern Ukraine. (AP)

Johnson said that seizing all of Ukraine’s Donbass, which covers much of eastern Ukraine, had been Putin’s goal for the past eight years “when he ignited a separatist rebellion and launch their first invasion “.

Although Russia has not yet achieved this goal, “Putin may not realize it, but his grand imperial design for the total reconquest of Ukraine has derailed. In his isolation, he may still think that the total conquest is possible “.

Both men stressed the need to prevent future Russian aggression.

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

Johnson asked what would happen if President Putin were free to keep all areas of Ukraine now controlled by Russian forces.

“What if no one was willing to lift a finger while annexing this conquered territory and its fearsome people to a larger Russia? Would that bring peace?”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on the right, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, pose for a photo during their meeting in central Kyiv. (Presidential Press Office of Ukraine via AP)

Johnson said that through strong long-term support in Ukraine, “we and our allies will protect our own security as much as that of Ukraine and safeguard the world from Putin’s lethal dreams and those who may try to copy them. “.

Johnson wrote: “Time is of the essence. It will all depend on whether Ukraine can strengthen its ability to defend its soil more quickly than Russia can renew its ability to attack. Our task is to get time alongside “Ukraine”.

On Sunday, Ukrainian officials said heavy fighting continued in the city of Severodonetsk, the epicenter of the bloody battle for the eastern Donbass region of Ukraine, and surrounding communities, as Russian forces tried to break resistance. Ukrainian defenders and capture parts of the eastern Luhansk region. don’t control anymore.

Serhii Hayday, head of the regional military administration, said “battles over Severodonetsk continue” and that the extensive Azot chemical plant, home to about 500 civilians, had been bombed again.

A Russian Black Sea Fleet frigate launches a Caliber cruise missile at an undisclosed target in Ukraine. (AP)

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

In the west, in the Donetsk region, also in the 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 by the Ukrainian General Staff.

But there seems to have been little change in front-line positions.

– Reported to the Associated Press, CNN

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