NATO chief: Ukraine’s future negotiating hand hinges on success of counter-offensive

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Ukraine’s negotiation power when the time comes for talks with Russia to end the conflict will be increased depending on the success of their counter-offensive, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

“Negotiations to solve the conflict in Ukraine will only happen when Ukraine is ready for negotiations… What we do know is that the more military support we provide to Ukraine, the more land they are able to liberate, the stronger their hand will be at the negotiating table.”

Ukraine has launched last month its counter-offensive to reclaim territory occupied by Russia and has been engaged in intense battles against the Russians across a number of battlefronts.

Stoltenberg added: “Therefore, we continue, and the message from this Summit and from NATO Allies with new announcements of long-range cruise missiles, of more armored vehicles with more advanced air defense systems and training of the F-16 pilots is that we support them to liberate land, so they will have a stronger hand at the negotiating table.”

The NATO chief also highlighted that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict was a “war of attrition – a battle of logistics” which is why the alliance prioritized supplying Kyiv with advanced weapons systems, large quantities of ammunition and spare equipment parts.

“It is important that we deliver different advanced weapon systems but as important as delivering new systems, is it that we are able to maintain and sustain all the systems which are already there, and enormous amount of ammunition, spare parts, maintenance, repair capacity.”

Because he stressed that “without sustaining all the systems then Ukraine will not be able to defend their land and to liberate the territory.”

He also reiterated that Ukraine will eventually become a NATO member: “We have agreed that Ukraine's future is in NATO. We reaffirm that Ukraine will become a member. We actually have agreed on concrete tools, political tools, practical tools to help Ukraine move towards membership.”

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