NATO, EU Back More Military Aid for Ukraine

NATO and European Union leaders have reinforced their commitment to providing Ukraine with military support to counter Russia’s nearly year-old invasion, including providing advanced air defenses and other equipment.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters Tuesday she thinks Ukraine should get all the military equipment it needs to defend itself, “because they also defend the basic principles of the U.N. Charter, of the fundamental rights and of the international law.

“Speaking alongside von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel after a meeting in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the announcements in recent days by the United States, Germany and France of plans to provide Ukraine with new types of armor and armored vehicles. He stressed the need to also keep a focus on training, maintenance and ammunition for the existing systems that allies have already sent to Ukraine’s forces.

“NATO allies and EU members have depleted their stocks to provide support to Ukraine, and that has been the right thing to do because this is also about our security and of course we need to use our capabilities, our stocks, our ammunition, to support Ukraine.”

Stoltenberg added that while Ukrainian forces have been able to inflict losses on Russia’s military, Russia should not be underestimated and President Vladimir Putin has shown no indication of changing “the overall aim of his brutal war against Ukraine.”

“The regime in Moscow wants a different Europe. It wants to control its neighbors and it sees democracy and freedom as a threat,” Stoltenberg said. “This will have long-lasting consequences for our security, so we must continue to strengthen the vital transatlantic bond in NATO, we must continue to strengthen the partnership between NATO and the European Union, and we must further strengthen our support to Ukraine.”

Bakhmut battle

Britain’s defense ministry said Tuesday Russian forces and those from the mercenary Wagner group were “probably now in control” of most of Soledar, a small salt mining town in eastern Ukraine located in one of the areas of fiercest fighting.

The fighting for Soledar has resulted in heavy losses for both sides.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his nightly address Monday, described the destruction in Soledar by saying, “There are almost no whole walls left.”

“Due to the resilience of our warriors there, in Soledar, we have gained additional time and additional power for Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said.

About 10 kilometers from Soledar is Bakhmut, which the British defense ministry said in its latest daily assessment is likely Russia’s main target in Ukraine.

“Despite the increased pressure on Bakhmut, Russia is unlikely to envelop the town imminently because Ukrainian forces maintain stable defensive lines in depth and control over supply routes,” the British ministry said.

A senior U.S. military official, who spoke to reporters Monday on the condition of anonymity, called the fight in Bakhmut “really savage.”

“And what I mean by savage is you’re talking about thousands upon thousands of artillery rounds that have been delivered between both sides,” the official said, adding that Russian mercenary forces sacrifice their weaker soldiers by putting them in the front lines.

The weaker soldiers “essentially take the brunt,” the official said, adding that better trained forces then “move behind them to claim the ground.”

Some material in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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