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NATO warns of long war in Ukraine as Russian assaults follow EU boost for Kyiv

The NATO chief warned on Sunday that the war in Ukraine could drag on for years and urged Western countries to continue providing military and humanitarian assistance in its fight against Russia.

General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said providing advanced weapons to Ukrainian troops was essential in their efforts to liberate the eastern Donbass region from Russian control, Bild am Sonntag reported. “We have to prepare for the fact that it could take years. We must not relax our support for Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.

“Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, but also because of rising energy and food prices,” he said.

Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and moved quickly to take the capital Kyiv, but determined Ukrainian forces deterred the assault. Since then, the battlefield has changed.

Moscow has concentrated its forces in the Donbass region, where Russian troops have been assisting separatists since President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed Crimea in 2014. The United States and its Western allies have sent billions of dollars worth of weaponry to Ukraine since February, including high-tech missile systems, helicopters, howitzers, tactical vehicles and drones.

Smoke rises above the city following recent Ukraine-Russia war bombings in Donetsk, Ukraine on June 18, 2022.
Smoke rises above the city following recent Ukraine-Russia war bombings in Donetsk, Ukraine on June 18, 2022.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

On Friday, the European Commission recommended Ukraine for candidate status, a move that would allow Kyiv to achieve a long-held goal that seemed out of reach before the Russian invasion. Meanwhile, eastern Ukrainian towns continued to be bombarded by Russian rockets on Sunday. Sievierodonetsk came under heavy rocket and artillery fire.

“The situation in Sievierodonetsk is very difficult,” said Serhiy Gaidai, the Ukrainian governor of Luhansk.

He said Russian troops were deploying aerial reconnaissance drones to guide strikes in response to changing defenses. “The areas near the bridges were heavily shelled again,” Gaidai said, pointing out that the Azot chemical plant, where hundreds of people had sought refuge, had been hit twice.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits a Ukrainian military post in southern Ukraine on June 18, 2022.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits a Ukrainian military post in southern Ukraine on June 18, 2022.
by Reuters
A resident examines a destroyed tram depot in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
A resident examines a destroyed tram depot in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has been hailed for his efforts to rally the Ukrainian people and resist the Russian attack, said on Sunday he met soldiers at the front line near Mykolaiv, an area about 540 km south of Kyiv.

“I spoke to our defenders – the army, the police, the National Guard,” he said, according to Reuters.

“Their mood is assured: they don’t all doubt our victory,” said Zelenskiy. “We will not give the south to anyone, and everything that is ours we will take back.”

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Post expires at 10:22am on Thursday June 30th, 2022