The Ukrainian military has failed to achieve any breakthroughs on the battlefield over the past several months, but the West should stand by the country regardless, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has argued. The official also lamented the apparent failure of the military bloc’s defense industry to establish provide Kiev with the munitions it requires.
Earlier this week Stoltenberg warned that Moscow had been amassing missiles ahead of the winter, noting that Russian weapons manufacturers were operating “on a war footing.”
In an interview with Germany’s Das Erste TV channel aired on Saturday, Stoltenberg acknowledged that the frontlines in Ukraine have remained largely unchanged of late, adding that “wars are difficult to plan.”
“We have to be prepared for bad news. Wars move in phases, but we must stand by Ukraine in good and in bad times alike,” NATO’s chief insisted.
According to Stoltenberg, “ramping up production is of decisive importance” at this juncture.
When asked what Kiev should do in the meantime while its backers increase weapons production capacities – something that is bound to take time – Stoltenberg said that he would leave these “difficult operative decisions” to the Ukrainian leadership and military commanders.
“I think one of the problems that we must address is the fragmentation of the European defense industry. We are not capable of working so closely together as we should,” NATO’s secretary general stated. He called on all member states to “overcome the national, narrow interests” and increase supplies instead of enjoying rising prices.
Speaking after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Wednesday, Stoltenberg warned that “Russia has amassed a large missile stockpile ahead of winter, and we see new attempts to strike Ukraine’s power grid and energy infrastructure.”
Two days prior, he told reporters that “we should never underestimate Russia.” NATO’s chief noted that Moscow had set its “defense industry on a war footing,” making it “hard to achieve the territorial gains we hope for.”
However, he stopped short of characterizing the current situation as a “stalemate” – a description used by the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, General Valery Zaluzhny, in early November.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry’s latest estimates, Kiev’s counteroffensive, which began in early June, has resulted in over 125,000 casualties for the Ukrainian side as of December 1.