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4 Apr, 2024 13:20

NATO chief hails Ukraine’s sacrifice for bloc’s own aims

With Kiev fighting Moscow, the bloc has saved its own troops, Jens Stoltenberg has said
NATO chief hails Ukraine’s sacrifice for bloc’s own aims

Western military support for Ukraine has allowed the bloc to weaken Russia without sending its own soldiers to die on the battlefield, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said.

Speaking at a summit of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Wednesday, the head of the US-led military bloc reiterated calls to provide Kiev with more ammunition and weapons in the long term, arguing that this suits Western interests.

“Support from NATO allies and support from the United States to Ukraine is something which benefits our own security interests,” Stoltenberg said.

He noted that “by allocating a fraction of our defense budgets, we have enabled the Ukrainians to destroy significant parts of the Russian combat capability” – and this has been done “without putting any NATO soldier, any US soldier, in harm’s way.”

The secretary-general argued that the West should step up its efforts in this regard, including by making its campaign to support Ukraine more sustainable in the long run.

Several Western media outlets reported earlier this week that Stoltenberg is championing a five-year €100 billion ($107 billion) aid package for Kiev, which would see NATO take on more responsibility from the US in terms of coordinating the assistance.

However, Politico reported on Wednesday that some NATO members have voiced doubts about the plan, expressing uncertainty regarding the details and where this figure came from in the first place.

In late February, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu estimated Ukraine’s losses at more than 444,000 troops since the start of the conflict. Earlier this week, he said that Kiev had lost more than 80,000 soldiers since the start of 2024.

This comes as Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky signed a highly controversial law lowering the conscription age for men from 27 to 25 to replenish the battlefield losses.

President Vladimir Putin has said that NATO is using Ukrainians as “cannon fodder,” and is using the country as a “testing ground” against Russia, arguing that the West is willing to fight “to the last Ukrainian.”