There is an “absolute possibility” that the Russia-Ukraine war would continue for months or years, the NATO secretary-general said on Thursday.
Speaking at the NATO Youth Summit, Jens Stoltenberg explained that NATO allies are preparing to provide support for Ukraine “over a long period of time” because “there is a possibility that this war will drag on for months and years.”
He stressed that besides providing military support, the NATO countries will continue to put diplomatic and economic pressure on Russia and its leader President Vladimir Putin because it is him “who started the war and he can end the war tomorrow.”
Reaffirming his previous remarks, Stoltenberg said that NATO allies welcome Finland and Sweden “with open arms” if they decided to join the military alliance.
He underlined that Sweden’s and Finland’s membership would strengthen the Euro-Atlantic security because both countries are “strong, mature democracies” and “NATO’s closest partners” with whom NATO has worked together in many joint exercises, missions, and operations.
Stoltenberg asserted that the discussion about Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO accession already demonstrates that Putin miscalculated the international community’s response when it invaded Ukraine.
Russia’s “aggressive actions, the threatening rhetoric” turned the public opinion towards NATO membership, he said.
Putin “gets exactly the opposite of what he wants,” Stoltenberg added, pointing out that Russia wanted “less NATO at its borders.”
“NATO is the most successful alliance in history,” he said, stressing that NATO united Europe and North America, and was able to adapt to the challenges over the past 70 years.
Since the beginning of Russia’s war in Ukraine on Feb. 24., NATO allies have provided and pledged over $8 billion in military support for Ukraine.
They have activated defense plans, deployed elements of the NATO Response Force, and tasked military commanders to draft plans for strengthening NATO’s long-term defense and deterrence.
NATO leaders are expected to give the final green light for the changes at their summit to be held in Madrid in June.