NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday warned Western allies not to “underestimate” Russia, despite Ukraine making “significant gains” in its counter-attack against Russian forces.
“Thanks to the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people, and the unprecedented support of NATO allies, Ukraine has made significant gains,” Stoltenberg said in his speech at the Berlin Security Conference.
He added, “But we should not underestimate Russia, as Russian missiles and drones continue to strike Ukrainian cities, civilians, and vital infrastructure, causing enormous human suffering, especially with the advent of winter.”
Stoltenberg noted that NATO pays the price for its support of Ukraine “financially”, but the Ukrainians pay the price of the war “in blood”.
- Advertisement -
He stressed that NATO allies will continue to provide military support to Ukraine, and provide advanced weapons and air defense systems.
“Russia’s occupation of Ukraine was not surprising,” Stoltenberg said, noting that “intelligence reports months before (before the start of the war) indicated the possibility of this happening.”
NATO Secretary General stressed that “the alliance is not part of the conflict in Ukraine, but we support Kyiv to defend itself.”
Stoltenberg said that NATO “has tried for years to build constructive relations with Russia, but after its occupation of Ukraine, this is no longer possible.”
He added, “The war in Ukraine did not start in February 2022, but it began after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.”
On February 24, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine, which was followed by international rejection and economic sanctions on Moscow, which requires Kyiv to abandon plans to join military entities to end its operation, which the latter considers an “interference” in its sovereignty.