Russia is strengthening itself to “take control of the whole of Donbass”, in eastern Ukraine, and achieve “a land bridge with Crimea”, annexed by Moscow in 2014, said Tuesday the secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg. NATO fears “a new highly concentrated offensive in the Donbass region”.
Russia is strengthening itself to “take control of the whole of Donbass”, in eastern Ukraine, and achieve “a land bridge with Crimea”, annexed by Moscow in 2014, said Tuesday the secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg. “We are in a crucial phase of the war,” he warned during a press conference on the eve of a meeting of Alliance foreign ministers.
A feared new offensive in Donbass
“Russian troops have left the Kyiv region and northern Ukraine. Vladimir Putin is moving a large number of troops to the east in Russia. They will rearm, receive reinforcements in numbers, because they have suffered a lot of losses, and resupply to launch a new highly concentrated offensive in the Donbass region,” he said. “It is in this region that most of the Ukrainian forces are concentrated,” he stressed.
“The repositioning of the Russian forces will take some time, a few weeks, before the launch of a major offensive. It is essential that the allies support the Ukrainians, help them to rearm, to allow them to defend themselves”, a- he insisted. Alliance foreign ministers will discuss the needs of the Ukrainian forces with their Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kouleba on Thursday, he said. “I don’t want to give details, but the supply of anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft defense systems is being considered,” he said.
“We risk discovering more atrocities”
Jens Stoltenberg denounced the “abject images of civilians murdered in Boutcha”, near kyiv, and said he feared the discovery of “other atrocities”. “The Russians still control part of the Ukrainian territory. When it is taken over, we risk discovering more mass graves, more atrocities, more war crimes, and this underlines the importance of investigations to establish all the facts in order to that those responsible be brought to justice,” he insisted. “Targeting and murdering civilians are war crimes,” he said.
“The Allies must strengthen their assistance to the Ukrainians after these atrocities. The stronger they are, the more they will have a hand at the negotiating table,” he pleaded. “It’s up to the Ukrainian government, the Ukrainian president, to decide which peace agreements they can accept,” he added. “But the Alliance will never recognize illegally occupied territories,” he warned. NATO acts only to defend its members when one of them is attacked. Ukraine is not a member but nothing prevents the 30 member countries of NATO from providing military aid.