NATO’s chief says alliance countries have moved too slowly to send Ukraine new arms against Russia


KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — NATO countries haven’t delivered what they promised to Ukraine in time, the alliance’s chief said Monday, allowing Russia to press its advantage while Kyiv’s depleted forces wait for military supplies to arrive from the U.S. and Europe.

“Serious delays in support have meant serious consequences on the battlefield” for Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference in Kyiv with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Ukraine’s troops were compelled to make a tactical retreat from three villages in the east, where the Kremlin’s forces have been making incremental gains, Ukraine’s army chief said Sunday. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed Monday its forces had also taken the village of Semenivka.

“The lack of ammunition has allowed the Russians to push forward along the front line. Lack of air defense has made it possible for more Russian missiles to hit their targets, and the lack of deep strike capabilities has made it possible for the Russians to concentrate more forces,” Stoltenberg said.

Ukraine and its Western partners are racing to deploy critical new military aid that can help check the slow and costly but steady Russian advance across eastern areas, as well as thwart drone and missile attacks.

Zelenskyy said new Western supplies have started arriving, but slowly. “This process must be speeded up,” he said.

Though the 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) front line has shifted little since early in the war, the Kremlin’s forces in recent weeks have edged forward, especially in the Donetsk region, with sheer numbers and massive firepower used to bludgeon defensive positions.

Nick Reynolds, a research fellow for land warfare at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, said the war “is still largely an artillery duel.”

“When we see one side or the other being in a position to move the front line, at some stage, maneuver will be restored to the battlefield. Not in the next few weeks, maybe not even in the next few months. But it will happen,” he told The Associated Press.

Kyiv’s Western partners have repeatedly vowed to stand with Ukraine “for as long as it takes.” But vital U.S. military help was held up for six months by political differences in Washington, and Europe’s military hardware production has not kept up with demand. Ukraine’s own manufacturing of heavy weapons is only now starting to gain traction.

Russia is a far bigger country than Ukraine, with greater resources. It has also received weapons support from Iran and North Korea, the U.S. government says.

Drawn-out Ukrainian efforts to mobilize more troops, and the belated building of battlefield fortifications, are other factors undermining Ukraine’s war effort, military analysts say.

NATO chief Stoltenberg said more weapons and ammunition for Ukraine are on the way, including Patriot missile systems to defend against heavy Russian barrages that smash into the power grid and urban areas.

Ukrainian officials say Russia is assembling forces for a major summer offensive, even if its troops are making only incremental gains at the moment.

“Russian forces remain unlikely to achieve a deeper operationally significant penetration in the area in the near term,” the Institute for the Study of War said in an assessment Sunday.

Even so, the Kremlin’s forces are closing in on the strategically important hilltop town of Chasiv Yar, whose capture would be an important step forward into the Donetsk region.

Donetsk and Luhansk form much of the industrial Donbas region, which has been gripped by separatist fighting since 2014, and which Putin has set as a primary objective of the Russian invasion. Russia illegally annexed areas of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions in September 2022.


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