NEW YORK – Ukraine urgently needs air defense, including ammunition, spare parts and maintenance of the systems that the Ukrainian army already has, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said today.
He said the war, now well into its second year, was a “war of attrition” but not a stalemate, given what Ukraine had won during a counteroffensive it launched in June in an attempt to regain territory it had he pointed out, occupied by Russian forces.
“If we want an end to the war, if we want a just and lasting peace, then military support for Ukraine is the right way,” said Stoltenberg in an interview with Reuters in New York, where he attended the United Nations General Assembly.
According to him, Ukraine needs many different types of support.
“There is an urgent need for anti-aircraft systems, not only for new systems, but also for ammunition, maintenance, spare parts… We see that air defense saves lives in Ukraine every day, and we need to maintain the air defense systems of Ukraine,” Stoltenberg stressed.
He declined to say how much ammunition the NATO allies might deliver to Ukraine each year, or when exactly the F-16s would be delivered to Kiev.
“Allies are working hard to train (F-16 pilots) as soon as possible,” Stoltenberg said.
He pointed out that the importance of sending the F-16 aircraft also lies in the fact that it sends a message of long-term and permanent support.
“We are ready for the long haul. Not because we are able to predict exactly how long this war will last, but because we need to send a message to President (Vladimir) Putin that we will not wait for the end by doing nothing,” the NATO leader emphasized, according to Tanjug.
Stoltenberg said that he would like to see faster progress in the Ukrainian counter-offensive, but also added that what they have won in the south and east is still “enormous”.
In his opinion, the war could continue during autumn and winter.
“What we need to continue is to support the Ukrainians and then they have to make decisions on the ground,” he said, adding that the war of attrition is becoming a war of logistics.