NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Saturday that the alliance must be prepared for bad news about Ukraine and urged support for continuing the proxy war against Russia.
“Wars develop in phases,” Stoltenberg told the German broadcaster ARD. “We have to support Ukraine in both good and bad times. We should also be prepared for bad news.”
Stoltenberg acknowledged Ukraine has been unable to “move the front line” but claimed Ukrainian forces were still achieving “big victories.” He previously argued that Ukraine was having some success because it was inflicting heavy losses on Russia, although Kyiv is currently facing a serious manpower shortage.
Stoltenberg’s comments came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged to The Associated Press that the counteroffensive was a failure. “We wanted faster results. From that perspective, unfortunately, we did not achieve the desired results. And this is a fact,” he said.
Despite the lack of success, Zelensky said he’s not “backing down” and that the conflict is entering a second phase. “There is not enough power to achieve the desired results faster. But this does not mean that we should give up, that we have to surrender,” he said.
Russia is also digging in for a long war as Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the military to increase its number of troops by nearly 170,000. The decree brings the strength of the armed forces to 1.32 million people and the overall number of Russian military personnel to about 2.2 million.
Ukraine is also looking for ways to bolster its depleted forces, including by expanding the draft. The Ukrainian military wants Zelensky to sign off on a plan to lower the age of involuntary conscription for men without military experience to 25, which could add around 140,000 recruits.