NATO ministers plan to boost support for Ukraine as Russia regroups – POLITICO

NATO ministers will consider this week how to bolster support for Ukraine as Russia pivots to an expected offensive in the east of the country, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of foreign ministers from the Western military alliance, Stoltenberg said that while Russia was pulling back some of its troops around the Ukrainian capital of kyiv, “Moscow is not giving up on its ambitions in Ukraine. “.

“We are now seeing a major movement of troops away from Kyiv – to regroup, rearm and resupply, and they are concentrating in the east,” the general secretary told reporters.

“In the coming weeks,” Stoltenberg said, “we expect another Russian push into eastern and southern Ukraine to try to take all of Donbass and create a land bridge to occupied Crimea.” , a part of Ukraine that Russia annexed in 2014. .

“This is a crucial phase of the war,” he added.

NATO ministers, who are due to meet in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday, will discuss how best to help kyiv through this phase. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, as well as partners from non-NATO countries Finland, Sweden and Georgia, will take part in the discussion. EU and Asia-Pacific partners from Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea will also participate.

The meeting comes amid growing outrage over Russian military atrocities in Ukraine, with growing concern over the targeting of civilians in areas under Moscow’s control.

Stoltenberg called the killing of civilians an “unbearable brutality that Europe has not witnessed for many decades”, stressing that “targeting and murdering civilians is a war crime”.

NATO allies, he said, “are determined to provide additional support to Ukraine, including anti-tank weapons, air defense systems and other equipment.” Stoltenberg declined to provide details, citing operational security, but said he would include more of the same equipment.

“These relatively light weapons have a huge impact,” he said.

The Ukrainians were able to shoot down Russian planes, helicopters and drones “thanks to advanced air defense systems provided by NATO allies”, Stoltenberg said. Beyond weapons, the Secretary General noted, Ukraine needs fuel, ammunition, helmets, protective gear and medical supplies.

As Russia prepares for its next offensive, Stoltenberg implored his allies to lend kyiv a helping hand.

“The repositioning of Russian troops will take time, a few weeks,” he said. “But after that, we are afraid to see a big Russian offensive in Donbass.”

“In this window,” Stoltenberg added, “it is extremely important that NATO allies provide support.”


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