NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that the conflict in Ukraine is likely to continue for an extended period of time, referring to it as “a long war.” Despite expressing a desire for a quick peace, Stoltenberg affirmed his support for Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s goal of achieving a military victory over Russia.
Stoltenberg acknowledged that most wars tend to last longer than initially anticipated and urged the West to prepare for a protracted conflict in Ukraine. Reports from various media outlets over the past two months have indicated that Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive against Russian forces is unlikely to succeed, resulting in minimal territorial changes as the winter season approaches.
Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Ukraine has suffered significant losses, with over 71,000 fatalities occurring since the start of the counteroffensive in June. Ukrainian sources have reported that some units have experienced a loss of up to 90% of their manpower. Despite this grim reality, Stoltenberg reiterated NATO’s commitment to pursuing a military solution rather than diplomatic negotiations.
Stoltenberg further emphasized the necessity of Ukraine’s military efforts, insisting that without them, the country would cease to exist. He pointed out that peace could only be achieved if Putin and Russia laid down their weapons.
President Zelensky, following the collapse of a Turkish-brokered peace deal in April, issued a decree prohibiting all negotiations with Russia. He has persistently vowed to reclaim the territories of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye, as well as Crimea, which voted overwhelmingly to join Russia in 2014.
The United States has supported Zelensky’s stance, emphasizing that the decision to seek peace ultimately lies with the Ukrainian president. However, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has criticized Putin for allegedly rejecting meaningful diplomacy.
Russia, for its part, has stated its openness to a diplomatic solution while asserting that any peace agreement must account for the “new territorial reality” created by the annexation of Crimea and the establishment of separatist territories in Donetsk and Lugansk. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has indicated a preference for negotiating with what he describes as Zelensky’s Western puppet masters, rather than directly with the Ukrainian president.
In conclusion, both NATO and Russia recognize the possibility of a long-lasting conflict in Ukraine. While Stoltenberg insists on pursuing a military victory, Russia maintains that a diplomatic solution is feasible but requires acknowledging the current territorial reality. The conflict will likely persist until both sides are willing to compromise and engage in meaningful negotiations.