Nato chief warns of ‘hard winter’ for Ukraine and its supporters

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that Ukraine and its supporters faced a tough winter over coming months but urged the public in western nations to keep faith in their efforts, saying the war was at a critical point as Russia lost some territory.

We need at least to be prepared for this winter, because there is no sign of Russia giving up its goal of taking control of Ukraine,” Mr Stoltenberg told The Associated Press (AP).

“The war in Ukraine is approaching a pivotal moment where we see that the Russian offensive in Donbas has stalled. We see that the Ukrainians have been able to fight back, to strike back and regain some territory.”

We saw that during the Covid crisis, the industry was able to ramp up production of vaccines and now we need to have, to some extent, the same approach; ramp up quickly production of weapons and ammunitionNato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

Hardest of all was the task facing the Ukrainian armed forces, more than six months into a conflict once seen by Russian president Vladimir
Putin as a military intervention likely to last a few days, but which has now turned into a grinding war of attrition.

Speaking on the sidelines of a US-led meeting of Ukraine backers in Ramstein, southwest Germany, Mr Stoltenberg said: “Winter’s coming, and winter’s going to be hard on the battlefield in Ukraine. We know that the size of the Ukrainian army is now roughly three times as big as what it was last winter.”

He also said that Nato was working with the defence industry to explore ways to boost arms production to better meet Ukraine’s needs and replenish the arsenals of allies who have been providing all kinds of weapons and defence systems.

“We saw that during the Covid crisis, the industry was able to ramp up production of vaccines and now we need to have, to some extent, the same approach; ramp up quickly production of weapons and ammunition,” he told AP.

Turning to the public in the US, Canada and Europe suffering under high energy prices, inflation and concerns about food supplies, Mr Stoltenberg urged them to keep the faith, saying that the price of ending support now would be a price that was too high to pay.

If President Putin wins in Ukraine, then the world will become more dangerous. Then he will see that he is rewarded, that he can get his way by using brutal military force, by invading a neighbour, by blatantly violating international rule and attacking innocent civiliansNato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

“I understand that many people are frustrated and actually feel the pain in Nato countries with increasing energy prices, the cost of living. But at the same time, we have to remember that the price we pay is measured in money, in US dollars or pounds or euros, while the
price that Ukrainians are paying is measured in lives lost every day.

“If President Putin wins in Ukraine, then the world will become more dangerous. Then he will see that he is rewarded, that he can get his way by using brutal military force, by invading a neighbour, by blatantly violating international rule and attacking innocent civilians.”

The former Norwegian prime minister would not be drawn on how long the conflict might last, but he said that it would end at some point, at the negotiating table.

He said that Ukraine, as a sovereign, independent country, must be helped through the war to strengthen its hand in any future peace talks.

“If President Putin and Russia stop fighting, then we will have peace. If Ukraine stops fighting, then Ukraine will cease to exist as an independent nation. So therefore, we need to continue to provide support,” he said.

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