Two top Western officials have just said that NATO is preparing to settle in for a “long war” in Ukraine, as the prospect for peace negotiations retreats further and further on the horizon.
First, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in an interview published Sunday by Germany’s Funke Media Group said the alliance is committed to seeing military support to Kiev through, and that this is the only way to achieve peace. “Most wars last longer than expected when they first begin. Therefore, we must prepare ourselves for a long war in Ukraine,” he said, and added: “We must recognize that if Zelensky and the Ukrainians stop fighting, their country will no longer exist. If President Putin and Russia stop fighting, we will have peace.”
But after going all in on verbalizing the desire for a military solution, he still tried to emphasize, “We all want a quick peace.” It’s certainly contradictory messaging given he didn’t so much as broach the possibility of getting Kiev and Moscow to directly dialogue at the negotiating table.
This comes as the Ukrainian government is still trying to increase the pressure on its Western partners concerning more weapons at a faster rate, and advanced hardware, as Politico presents:
The head of Ukraine’s Security Council Oleksiy Danilov, in an opinion piece published Saturday evening, said the only way to end the war is if Kyiv’s allies speed up deliveries of weapons. “Refusing or delaying the transfer of modern weapons to the Ukrainian armed forces is a direct encouragement to the kremlin to continue the war, not the other way around,” Danilov said.
Next, on the same day as Stoltenberg’s comments grabbed headlines, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley spoke with CNN about the state of the war and the Pentagon’s perspective. He too warned that this conflict is set to endure for “a long time”.
“There’s well over 200,000 Russian troops in Russian-occupied Ukraine. This offensive, although significant, has operational and tactical objectives that are limited, in the sense that they do not — even if they are fully achieved — they don’t completely kick out all the Russians, which is the broader strategic objective that President Zelensky had,” the top US general said.
I concur. Same in Finland. These lunatics are pushing us towards a massive and destructive confrontation. https://t.co/erVqP68llu
— Tuomas Malinen (@mtmalinen) September 17, 2023
“That’s going to take a long time to do that. That’s going to be very significant effort over a considerable amount of time,” Milley emphasized. “I can tell you that it’ll take a considerable length of time to militarily eject all 200,000 or plus Russian troops out of Russian-occupied Ukraine. That’s a very high bar. It’s going to take a long time to do it.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Zelesnky has shown no interest in even the possibility of peace negotiations with the Kremlin. He’s even published a decree preventing talks as long as President Vladimir Putin remains in power.
Zelensky says he cannot give up *any* part of Ukraine for peace. You may agree with that position but you cannot honestly say he’s looking for a compromise position whereas Putin is not. pic.twitter.com/WvL91qtFcs
— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) September 18, 2023
The reality is that the four territories in the east and south, particularly the region of the Donbas, are for the most part firmly under Russian military control, with mine fields and fortifications making it nearly impossible for Ukraine forces to penetrate through Russian lines. At this rate, it will at the very least be a stalemated situation, possibly enduring for years, with Russia having achieved one of Putin’s key objectives of permanently holding the Russia-oriented Donbas.