The war in Ukraine is likely to end at the negotiating table, but Ukrainians must be able to defend themselves to strengthen their position at peace talks, top NATO and US officials have said.
At a joint news conference in Washington, DC on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the situation on the battlefield will affect how future negotiations will unfold.
“Wars are unpredictable,” Stoltenberg told reporters. “We were able to predict the invasion, but how this war will evolve, it’s very hard to predict. What we do know is that almost all wars end at some stage at the negotiating table.”
He added that NATO is supporting Ukraine’s right to self-defence while trusting the leadership in Kyiv to make its own judgement on talks with Moscow.
Blinken also said it is difficult to speculate on the trajectory of the conflict or when it will end.
“We can’t say when, we can’t say exactly how,” he said. “What we can say is what we will do to make sure that Ukraine has the means to defend itself and has the strongest possible hand at every step along the way.”
Russia launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24 after a months-long standoff that saw Moscow amass troops near the Ukrainian borders as Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded an end to NATO expansion into former Soviet republics.
After its failure to capture the capital, Kyiv, Moscow has scaled back its war objectives, shifting its war efforts to the eastern Donbas region and the southern parts of Ukraine.
US officials have said they are providing military aid to Ukraine to cope with the changing needs of the war. Blinken spotlighted that policy on Wednesday.
“We have evaluated what we believe Ukraine needs to … defend itself effectively,” he said. “And of course, that’s changed through the course of this aggression. What they needed to deal with threats to Kyiv are very different from what they need to deal with what’s now happening in southern and eastern Ukraine.”
On Wednesday, Stoltenberg said he is in “close contact” with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as the leaders of Finland and Sweden to address Ankara’s concerns.
“I will convene senior officials from all three countries in Brussels in the coming days,” he said.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA