NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warns that the coming months will be difficult for Ukraine. “Putin’s goal is to keep Ukraine cold and dark this winter,” he said during a press conference in The Hague on Monday after speaking with the Dutch government.
The NATO chief described Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson as a testament to “the incredible bravery of the Ukrainian armed forces”. “But it also demonstrations the importance of our continued provision for Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.
He warned me not to underestimate Russia. “The Russian armed forces still have great capabilities and many troops. And Russia has shown its willingness to bear great losses. But, unfortunately, they have also shown extreme brutality.”
Kherson was the first major city and the only regional capital captured by the Russians after the invasion began in late February. The withdrawal is, therefore, a setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had claimed the entire area as Russian territory in September after internationally condemned mock referendums.
Stoltenberg met the Dutch ministers Wopke Hoekstra (Foreign Affairs) and Kajsa Ollongren (Defence). They talked about the Dutch contribution to NATO and the war in Ukraine. “Winter is coming… We need to stay on track,” said Ollongren. “If Russia stops fighting tomorrow, there will be no more war. If Ukraine stops fighting, there will be no more Ukraine.”
The alliance’s secretary-general also emphasized that only Ukraine can decide on possible negotiations with Russia. “Only Ukraine decides what conditions are acceptable to them,” Stoltenberg said.