In a recent interview, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg delivered a sobering message, indicating that the alliance is gearing up for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine. Stoltenberg asserted his opinion that military support to Kyiv is the most viable path to achieving peace, but the road ahead appears increasingly challenging.
Stoltenberg's acknowledgment of the protracted nature of wars and the need for readiness in Ukraine reflects a grim reality. While he claimed a desire for a swift resolution to the ongoing conflict, he did not delve into the possibility of direct negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow, leaving many wondering about the diplomatic avenues that might lead to peace.
Simultaneously, Ukraine's Security Council head, Oleksiy Danilov, sounded the alarm on accelerating weapon deliveries from Western allies. Danilov argued that delays in providing modern weaponry to Ukrainian forces could embolden the Kremlin to prolong the conflict, with Russia maintaining a formidable military presence in Ukraine.
General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, echoed the sentiment of a protracted conflict. He pointed to the presence of over 200,000 Russian troops in Ukraine and the daunting task of dislodging them. Milley characterized this endeavor as a lengthy and challenging one, raising concerns about the durability of the standoff.
One of the most striking aspects of the ongoing crisis has been Ukrainian President Zelensky's stance against peace negotiations with Russia. He issued a decree that explicitly bars talks as long as President Putin remains in power. This position casts a long shadow over the prospects of diplomacy and raises questions about the potential avenues for dialogue between the two nations.
On the ground, the reality is grim. Russian military control is firmly entrenched in eastern and southern Ukrainian territories. The presence of mines and extensive fortifications has created a formidable barrier, making it exceedingly difficult for Ukrainian forces to penetrate Russian lines. This situation suggests a potential stalemate that could endure for years, effectively playing into one of President Putin's key objectives—maintaining control over the Donbas.