It has already become clear that the war in Ukraine will not be the blitzkrieg —blitzkrieg—that Russian President Vladimir Putin was seeking. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned the foreign ministers of the member countries on Wednesday that they must be prepared for “a long war” that will require efforts in three areas: support for Ukraine, prolonged maintenance of sanctions and the strengthening of its own defenses.
“We have to be realistic. The war can last a long time, several months, even years. It is the reason why we also have to be prepared for a long journey, both in terms of supporting Ukraine, maintaining sanctions and strengthening our defenses”, Stoltenberg declared before the start of the meeting. that the highest diplomatic officials of the 30 members of the Alliance maintain this Wednesday afternoon and Thursday.
The defeat of the Russians in their attempt to take kyiv and the abandonment, at least for now, of this objective do not bring the possibility of the war ending soon. Moscow has announced that it is going to focus its offensive on controlling the entire territory of the Donbas region and on opening a corridor in the south, on the coast of the Sea of Azov, connecting this area with the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed in 2014. So that the Ukrainian army can also repel this attack —“a decisive phase of the war”, in the words of Stoltenberg—, “NATO foreign ministers are going to discuss what else they can do. They are determined to maintain support for Ukraine, including anti-tank, anti-aircraft weapons and other equipment.”
Without that support, and that received from the West in the form of material and training since the occupation of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine would have had a much harder time containing Russian aggression, as US Secretary of State for Defense Lloyd Austin made clear. in a debate with a Republican senator this past Tuesday: “Has it occurred to you that Russia has not invaded [toda] Ukraine for what we have done? And because of what our allies have done? Have you thought about it?”
Beyond these expressions, there is not much more official specification about what type of weapons is being supplied to Ukraine. The Government of Volodímir Zelenski has repeatedly demanded that they send him combat planes and tanks, weapons that most of his allies have not sent for fear of an escalation in the armed conflict in the face of threats from Russia. Although it does seem that some of the countries closest to kyiv have supposedly already sent tanks, According to the American newspaper The Wall Street Journal.
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The massacres of civilians in the cities that the Russian army came to occupy near kyiv before its withdrawal has increased the pressure on the West to give another twist to the sanctions it applies to Russia – the European Commission has opened the way for the punishing energy imports, now hampered by Hungary—and send larger-scale war material. “I am not going to detail exactly what kind of weapons the allies are sending, but I can say that all of them are doing very significant things, and that includes heavier and lighter weapons,” Stoltenberg said, repeatedly asked if he has arrived. the time to send tanks and about the supplies made so far.
“We promised to do three things: support Ukraine and we are doing it, put pressure on Russia and we are doing it, and reinforce the defenses of the Alliance and we are doing it”, has sentenced, for his part, the Secretary of State of the United States , Antony Blinken, upon his arrival at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, where the meeting is being held.
Foreign officials from other European countries such as Finland and Sweden will also attend the two-day meeting, something common in recent times, plus those from Ukraine and Georgia and the high representative of EU Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell. In addition, the ministers of Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea will participate, democratic countries that can be included in the western orbit opposite the axis formed by China and Russia.
On the table, along with the invasion of Ukraine, how to help Georgia will also be discussed, a country that, as Stoltenberg has recalled, has parts of its territory occupied by the Russian army. “We will look at how we can give you more support, both in terms of cyber security and the development of secure communications and other ways to strengthen Georgians to resist pressure from Russia,” the Norwegian stressed.
The agenda is completed with the debate on the strategic document that must include NATO’s plans for the coming years and that will be definitively drawn up at the summit next June in Madrid. This deals with three vectors: one that deals with collective defense, another with cooperative security and the last one with emergencies. The invasion of Ukraine has led the countries of the East and the Anglo-Saxons to want to prioritize the former, after all, it is the one that addresses the Russian challenge specifically. On the other hand, countries such as Spain or France are more interested in the vector of cooperative security, since it serves the southern border of the Alliance and, therefore, they demand that some objectives not be prioritized at the expense of others.