Two senior Western leaders have renewed warnings that the war in Ukraine could last years, and that the country’s allies should prepare to support it in a lengthy fight against Russia.
NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, told a German newspaper that the Western military alliance “must not let up in supporting Ukraine. Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, but also because of rising energy and food prices.”
Those costs were no comparison “to the price that the Ukrainians have to pay every day with many lives,” he told Bild am Sonntag in comments that were posted online late Saturday.
Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, said that Ukraine’s allies must ensure that it “has the strategic endurance to survive and eventually prevail” over Russian forces.
“I am afraid that we need to steel ourselves for a long war, as Putin resorts to a campaign of attrition, trying to grind down Ukraine by sheer brutality,” Mr. Johnson wrote in The Sunday Times of London.
Ukraine faces an increasingly difficult fight in its east, where Russia is using long-range artillery to bombard cities and military positions. Ukrainian officials have complained that advanced weaponry from their allies is arriving too slowly to overturn Russia’s firepower advantages, and that as many as 200 Ukrainian soldiers are being killed daily.
Mr. Stoltenberg said that Ukrainian forces were fighting bravely, and that with the arrival of more modern weaponry, they would be able to push Russian troops out of the eastern Donbas region.
Mr. Johnson said that allies also needed to step up efforts to ensure that Ukrainian forces knew how to operate the advanced equipment, and that Britain hoped to train “up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days,” although he did not offer details.
NATO defense ministers met last week to discuss more support for Ukraine, and the United States led a separate gathering of countries providing military aid to Ukraine. The United States said it would provide an additional $1 billion in weapons and aid that included an advanced American rocket system, anti-ship missile launchers, more long-range artillery and more ammunition for howitzers.
NATO members will meet in Madrid for two days starting June 29 to address security concerns and the alliance’s strategic direction for the next decade. The document that comes out of that meeting will address not only Russia, but also China for the first time, Mr. Stoltenberg said.
He also said that NATO took seriously the concerns of the Turkish government about the applications of Sweden and Finland to join NATO, but offered no details on a possible resolution. Turkey has said that it believes Sweden and Finland are too sympathetic to Kurdish groups it considers terrorists. That has complicated the applicants’ prospects of joining NATO, which operates by consensus.