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West Ready To Support Ukraine For As Long As It Takes, Says NATO Chief

NATO member states are "ramping up" production of military supplies to ensure the Western alliance can continue to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia's full-scale invasion, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told RFE/RL in an interview.

"The main challenge [facing NATO] is that this war now has become a war of attrition, which means the battle of logistics is about getting ammunition, weapons, supplies to the front lines."

Stoltenberg, speaking at NATO headquarters in Brussels ahead of an April 4 meeting of foreign ministers from the military alliance's members, said that early in the war, which began in February 2022 with Russia's unprovoked full-scale invasion, NATO countries looking to aid Kyiv with weapon supplies "were depleting our own stocks."

"So now we're also working hard ramping up production, so we can ensure that we can continue to support Ukraine, because this is extremely important to continue to do so."

He said it would be "a tragedy for Ukraine if [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin wins, but it's also dangerous for the NATO allies."

Stoltenberg said his message for alliance members was: "We should support Ukraine because it is in our security interest to demonstrate that President Putin [will not] win in Ukraine."

Speaking on current battlefield developments, the NATO chief said the "whole world" was impressed by the "quality, the courage, determination" of Ukrainian forces.

"And what we see is that the Russian troops -- there is low morale, the equipment is often bad, training is not very impressive.

"Leadership is not really working in many of the operations.... But what the Russian troops lack in quality, they try to make up in quantity. So they are throwing in thousands and thousands of troops, many of them ill-equipped, ill-trained. But, of course...they're also able to inflict casualties on the Ukrainian side."

As the war drags on, Stoltenberg said it was "our responsibility" to ensure that the conflict does not fall into a long-lasting stalemate.

"What we would like to see is, of course, Ukraine being able to liberate more land, to push back President Putin's soldiers, and then that may create the conditions for some kind of negotiations," he said.

He stressed that it was "for Ukraine to decide what are acceptable conditions for negotiations."

"But what we know is that what happens through the negotiating table is inextricably linked to the strength of the battlefield. So if we want a negotiated solution where Ukraine prevails as an independent sovereign nation tomorrow, then we need to provide military support today," Stoltenberg said.

Asked whether he believes the West will continue to support Kyiv as the war drags on, the NATO chief said that "we are ready to support Ukraine for as long as it takes."

"We support Ukraine's right to self-defense [and to protect its] territory. This is a right which is enshrined in the UN charter. There's no doubt that what we see now is a war of aggression against Ukraine, and we support Ukraine's right to self-defense, and we will do that as long as it takes."


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