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Russian-Ukrainian War Could Last For Years, Western Leaders Say | Ukraine

Western leaders have said the war in Ukraine could last for years and will require long-term military support as Russia has advanced reserve forces in an apparent attempt to capture the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk.

“We have to be prepared for the fact that it could take years,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with German newspaper Bild on Sunday. “We must not relax our support for Ukraine.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson echoed Stoltenberg’s comments. “I fear that we need to arm ourselves for a long war,” he said, adding that it was necessary “to commit time alongside Ukraine.”

It came as Britain’s new army chief said British troops must prepare “to fight again in Europe”. “There is now a burning imperative to forge an army capable of fighting alongside our allies and defeating Russia in battle,” General Sir Patrick Sanders said, writing to his officials about the challenges they face.

Statements suggest the West believes Ukraine cannot achieve a quick military breakthrough despite the expected arrival of fresh NATO-standard weapons, while officials in the country have continued to call for quick help .

Ukrainian forces remain on the defensive in the eastern region of Donbass, where fighting continues in Sievierodonestsk. Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Lugansk region, said Russia was gathering forces to try to take full control of the city after weeks of fighting.

“Today, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow they will throw away all the reserves they have…Because there are already so many of them there, they have reached a critical mass,” Haidai told Ukrainian television. .

Russia already controls most of Sievierodonetsk, Haidai said Sunday morning, and if Ukrainian forces lose the town, the fighting is expected to focus on the nearby town of Lysychansk, 32 of whose residents were evacuated over the weekend despite violent bombings.

Russia’s Defense Ministry also said its Iskander missiles destroyed Western-supplied weapons in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, northwest of Luhansk. A Ukrainian Interior Ministry official said Russian forces were trying to approach Kharkiv, which had been heavily shelled early in the war, and turn it into a “frontline city”.

Smoke and flames rise from the Azot chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk after the Russian bombardment on Saturday
Smoke and flames rise from the Azot chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk after a Russian bombardment on Saturday. Photograph: Reuters

The UK Ministry of Defense said in a morning update that the intense fighting meant combat units on both sides were “likely experiencing variable morale”, a rare recognition of the pressures faced by both sides.

“The Ukrainian forces have probably suffered desertions in recent weeks. However, Russian morale most likely remains particularly troubled. Instances of entire Russian units refusing orders and armed clashes between officers and their troops continue to occur,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Ukraine has called for a massive influx of Western weapons so it can fend off Russian invaders, but what has been offered so far is less than Kyiv has asked for. The US, UK and Germany promised to send 10 rocket artillery systems, but Ukrainian advisers called for 60 or even 300.

A Ukrainian official said helping the country to an early victory would save money in the long run. Oleksandr Starukh, the governor of the Zaporizhzhia region, said: “We need these weapons because winter is coming,” adding that the country would face greater economic costs if the war drags on.

The problems could extend beyond Ukraine, he said, saying Europe could face another wave of immigrants from countries in Africa and the Middle East that depended on formerly grain exports from Ukraine if the war continued to disrupt maritime exports.

Stoltenberg said the price of long-term support for Ukraine was justified, despite the cost of military equipment and rising energy and food prices, because the West would pay a much higher price if Vladimir Putin succeeded and Russian forces occupied large parts of Ukraine. .

Johnson, writing in the Sunday Times, said the arms supply must continue and that it would be necessary to “preserve the viability of the Ukrainian state” by providing financial support “to pay salaries, run schools, provide aid and begin reconstruction”. ”.

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz conceded in an interview that his country had “focused its energy supply too much on Russia” to the point that it was not possible to change course “should the worst come to the worst”. . But he defended his predecessor Angela Merkel’s policy of seeking good relations with Moscow.

German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck said coal-fired power plants should be used more as an emergency measure to compensate for dwindling Russian gas supplies. The return of coal-fired power stations has been “painful, but it’s pure necessity”, he said.

City mayors and regional governors in Ukraine say that in most cases they are already facing funding shortfalls and there is no money to repair damaged infrastructure and buildings in places like Borodianka, northwest of Kyiv, as government spending is focused on the war effort.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited the southwestern front line in Mykolaiv and the nearby city of Odessa on Saturday. He insisted after his visit that Ukraine would not cede any of the occupied territories in the south of the country to Russia, which occupies most of the country’s coastal areas.

“We won’t give anyone the south. We will return everything that belongs to us and the sea will be Ukrainian and safe,” he said. “Russia doesn’t have as many missiles as our people want to live.”

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Post expires at 8:37am on Thursday June 30th, 2022