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NATO chief says Russia wants a 'freeze' in Ukraine fighting so it can prepare for a renewed assault early next year

Business Insider logo Business Insider 12/8/2022 (Sinéad Baker)
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Oslo, Norway, on December 8, 2022. NTB/Terje Bendiksby © NTB/Terje Bendiksby NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Oslo, Norway, on December 8, 2022. NTB/Terje Bendiksby
  • Russia wants a pause in Ukraine fighting to prepare for a bigger attack next year, NATO's head said.
  • Jens Stoltenberg said Russia is trying to enact some kind of "freeze" of the war.
  • Russia would then try to "launch a bigger offensive next spring," he said.

NATO's chief said Russia is trying to pause the fighting in Ukraine over the winter so that it can prepare its forces for a bigger offensive early next year.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the head of the Western military alliance, said on Wednesday that "what we see now is Russia is actually trying to have some kind of 'freeze' of this war at least for a short period of time so they can regroup, repair, recover."

"And then try to launch a bigger offensive next spring."

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the war in Ukraine could be a "long process."

Winter conditions have started to set in across Ukraine, where temperatures often hover below freezing between December and March.

On December 3rd, Avril Haines, the US National Intelligence Director, said that winter conditions were expected to slow the war, and that they were already seeing a "reduced tempo."

Stoltenberg, being interviewed by Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf, was asked if Ukraine would fear a pause in the fighting, which could result in "fatigue" among its Western backers.

He responded by stressing NATO members' support for the country, and said that Russia had "underestimated the strength of NATO Allies and partners in our commitment to stand by Ukraine, to support Ukraine."

Asked if Western countries should give Ukraine more offensive weapons in order to push through this winter, Stoltenberg said that NATO allies were already giving unprecedented levels of military support to Ukraine, and were considering adding new weapons systems.

"If Putin wins, it will be a tragedy for Ukrainians, but it will also be extremely serious for all of us" and would weaken NATO, he added.


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