NATO’s chief Jens Stoltenberg claimed that Moscow is preparing to prolong the war in Ukraine, stressing that the alliance’s member states should keep the flow of arms to Kiev.
Stoltenberg said to our reporters on Friday that NATO members must maintain support for Ukraine until “[Russian] President Putin understands that he cannot win on the battlefield.”
The secretary-general added that there are currently no indications that Putin has, “given up his overall goal of controlling Ukraine”.
“We should not underestimate Russia. Russia is planning for a long war,” he said in the interview.
“We see that they are mobilising more forces, that they are willing to suffer also a lot of casualties, that they are trying to get access to more weapons and ammunition.”
Stoltenberg continued: “We have to understand that President Putin is ready to be in this war for a long time and to launch new offensives,” adding that, “most likely this war will end at the negotiating table, as most wars do,” stressing that any solution must ensure “Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent nation.”
Regarding reports that the US is planning to send Patriot air defense systems to Kiev, the chief mentioned that there is an ongoing discussion about the delivery of the system.
“The fastest way to achieve that is to support them militarily so President Putin understands that he cannot win on the battlefield but has to sit down and negotiate in good faith,” he said.
“We have a dialogue among allies on additional systems, but it becomes more and more important to ensure that all the systems that are delivered are functional.”
Ukraine’s demands for more weapons and a huge flow of ammunition have drained the stockpiles of NATO members and sparked fears the alliance’s defense industries may not be able to produce enough.
Stoltenberg remarked on the depleting weapons and ammunition stockpiles that NATO member states are facing due to the large demand by Kiev, and the possible inability to replenish the stocks.
“We are ramping up production to do exactly that: to be able both to replenish our own stocks for deterrence and defense, and to continue to provide support to Ukraine for the long haul.”
Following reports that EU and NATO states are facing shortages in their own weapons, Stoltenberg said earlier in September that the alliance is closely collaborating with the defense sector to restock its arsenal, which has been depleted as a result of the supply of armaments to Ukraine by the bloc.
In the same context, EU foreign and security policy chief Josep Borrell said last May the bloc had depleted its military hardware helping Ukraine and urged member states to bolster their defense capabilities.
Borrell argued then that the EU’s defensive capabilities and military expenditure did not meet the ones he claimed the bloc needed to counter security threats at hand.
Stoltenberg added in the interview that, in the short run, the fall in stockpiles means that factories will now have to maximize production and the alliance must increase joint purchases of arms to give the weapons industry “long-term demand signals so they can invest more.”
The current war in Ukraine has pushed the alliance to make its largest shift in nearly 80 years.
“This is the most dangerous security crisis we have been in Europe since the Second World War,” he said, adding that, “this is a pivotal moment for security.”
NATO will remain “vigilant and will constantly monitor what they [Russia] do,” the chief said commenting on recent Western claims that Russia planning to “use nuclear weapons” in Ukraine.
“Nuclear rhetoric in reference to potential use of nuclear weapons is reckless, is dangerous,” Stoltenberg said, adding that, “his [Putin] aim is of course to deter us from supporting Ukraine, but he will not succeed in doing that.”
It’s noteworthy that last November, Stoltenberg told German newspaper Welt that military and financial support to Kiev is draining Europe due to the high costs it incurs for Europeans.
“Rising food and electricity bills signify hard times for many households in Europe,” Stoltenberg told the German outlet.
This comes after reports from US media said that as Washington and its western allies continue to pump weapons into Kiev, maintenance of the armaments is increasingly becoming a headache.
Since the war began in Ukraine, Western countries such as the US and Britain, as well as European states, have supplied Kiev with billions of dollars worth of weaponry, adding fuel to the fire in the war.
Weapons overused by the Ukrainian military are either being wiped out or damaged during the conflict.