‘The more land the Ukrainians can liberate, the stronger that hand will eventually be at the negotiating table,’ says Jens Stoltenberg
The events in Russia during the weekend are internal matters but what is clear is that “President Putin’s illegal war against Ukraine has deepened divisions and created new tensions in the country,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday.
Stoltenberg and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte co-hosted a working dinner for NATO leaders, including the Albania, Belgium and Norway prime ministers, in addition to the presidents of Lithuania, Poland and Romania.
Stoltenberg and Rutte held a meeting in the Hague before the dinner.
“At the same time, we must not underestimate Russia. So, it’s even more important that we continue to provide Ukraine with our support,” he said, adding that he expects the upcoming NATO summit in Lithuania will send a clear message of our commitment.
“The Ukrainian forces are now pursuing a counter-offensive. The fighting is hard, but they are making progress. The more land the Ukrainians can liberate, the stronger that hand will eventually be at the negotiating table,” he said.
The Russian Wagner Group accused Russian forces last Friday of attacking its fighters and subsequently crossed from Ukraine into the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.
In response, the Federal Security Service initiated a criminal case against the group for armed rebellion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin labeled the uprising an act of “treason.”
The group’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said his fighters would proceed to Moscow. That prompted the Kremlin to enhance security measures across various regions.
Prigozhin later claimed his fighters decided to turn back to avoid bloodshed when they were about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Moscow.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claimed he held talks with the Wagner’s head after getting Putin’s consent, and that Prigozhin accepted a de-escalation deal.