NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a recent interview that the Western military alliance should “be prepared for bad news” in the Ukraine war ahead of the winter months. 

“Wars develop in phases,” Stoltenberg told German broadcaster ARD in an interview Saturday, according to Politico Europe. “We have to support Ukraine in both good and bad times.” 

“We should also be prepared for bad news,” Stoltenberg added, without elaborating. 

Kyiv’s counteroffensive over the summer has  not resulted in the front lines moving much in recent months, and Russia has been bolstering the number of its troops. Western allies also have been debating ammunition and financial support for Ukraine, as the Israel-Hamas war presents competing political agendas, possibly putting the flow of military aid to Kyiv at risk.


Stoltenberg at NATO press conference

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during the first of two days of foreign ministers’ meetings at NATO Headquarters on Nov. 28, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.  (Omar Havana/Getty Images)

Stoltenberg did acknowledge Ukraine’s success in using cruise missiles to push back the Russian fleet in the Black Sea and cause damage deep in Russian territory.

“These are big victories even though they haven’t been able to move the front line,” Stoltenberg said. 

Recognizing a fragmented European defense industry, Stoltenberg reportedly called on allies to put national interests aside and ramp up ammunition production as part of a bigger picture. 

“We’re not able to work as closely together as we should,” he said, adding that a victory for Putin would pose a broader danger to the West. 

“The more we support Ukraine, the faster the war will end,” Stoltenberg added. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the Associated Press on Thursday that the war with Russia is in a new stage, with winter expected to complicate fighting after a summer counteroffensive that failed to produce desired results due to enduring shortages of weapons and ground forces. 

Ukraine tank

Ukrainian soldiers patrol with a Bradley Fighting vehicle as the Russia-Ukraine war continues in Avdiivka, Donbas, Ukraine on Dec. 4, 2023.  (Marek M. Berezowski/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Despite setbacks, however, Zelenskyy said on Thursday that Ukraine won’t give up.

“We have a new phase of war, and that is a fact,” Zelenskyy said in an exclusive interview Thursday with the AP in Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine after a morale-boosting tour of the region. “Winter as a whole is a new phase of war.” Asked if he was satisfied by the results of the counteroffensive, he gave a complex answer.


“Look, we are not backing down, I am satisfied. We are fighting with the second (best) army in the world, I am satisfied,” he said, referring to the Russian military. But he added: “We are losing people, I’m not satisfied. We didn’t get all the weapons we wanted, I can’t be satisfied, but I also can’t complain too much.”

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday ordered the country’s military to increase the number of troops by nearly 170,000 to a total of 1.32 million, as Moscow’s military action in Ukraine continues into its 22nd month. Putin’s decree was released by the Kremlin on Friday and took force immediately. 

It brings the overall number of Russian military personnel to about 2.2 million, including 1.32 million troops. It is the second such expansion of the army since 2018.

Stoltenberg and Blinken meet at NATO headquarters

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the first meeting of North Atlantic Council of foreign ministers at NATO headquarters on Nov. 28, 2023, in Brussels, Belgium.  (Omar Havana/Getty Images)

The Russian Defense Ministry said the order does not imply any “significant expansion of conscription,” saying in a statement that the increase would happen gradually by recruiting more volunteers. The ministry cited what it called “the special military operation” in Ukraine and the expansion of NATO as the reasons for beefing up the army.


NATO’s “joint armed forces are being built up near Russia’s borders and additional air defense systems and strike weapons are being deployed. The potential of NATO’s tactical nuclear forces is being increased,” the statement read.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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