As death toll climbs, NATO chief warns Russian war on Ukraine could ‘last for years’

It’s been nearly four months since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine and peace talks have stalled, the NATO chief warned on Sunday that the war could drag on for years .

“We have to be prepared for this to last for years,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the German newspaper. Bild am Sonntag.

“We must not relax our support for Ukraine. Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, but also because of rising energy and food prices,” he said. he continued. “But: this is not comparable to the price that Ukrainians have to pay every day with many lives.”

“And if Putin learns from this war that he can just continue as he did after the 2008 war in Georgia and the occupation of Crimea in 2014,” Stoltenberg added, “then we will pay a much higher price. raised”.

Stoltenberg’s comments followed Friday’s report from The Washington Post that “the United States and its allies are preparing for a protracted conflict in Ukraine”.

US President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that Washington “is providing an additional $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, including additional artillery and coastal defense weapons, as well as ammunition for artillery and advanced rocket systems that the Ukrainians need to support their defensive operations in the Donbass.”

The Job pointed out that “European nations, including Germany and Slovakia, have unveiled their own shipments of advanced weapons, including helicopters and multiple launch rocket systems.”

Critics continue to warn, as anti-war columnist Ted Snider wrote for Responsible mindset earlier this month that sending more advanced weapons that threaten Russia “could not only prolong the war and cause more suffering for the Ukrainians by extending the current battlefield, it could also ultimately put Ukraine in a weaker position at the negotiating table”.

Aiming in particular at the all-Democratic congressional delegation from Massachusetts, Jason Pramas of DiggingBoston this month brought to light the lack of public discussion or debate about the handing over of billions of dollars to Ukraine, including among “politicians who have criticized the scandalously huge US military budget and who have fought with doggedly trying to increase the budget for national social programs to benefit working families instead”. “

As Pramas wrote for Common dreams:

Yet does the mass delegation have no criticism to make against a $40 billion package that will inject far more money into the treasuries of major US military contractors than into the humanitarian aid the Ukrainian people desperately need?

Is there no problem giving so much money to a foreign power engaged in a regional conflict, no matter how justified, when there are so many unmet human needs here in the United States?

Is there any risk in supplying larger, longer range and more powerful weapon systems to the Ukrainian military when their use could trigger a nuclear response from Russia that would quickly and inevitably lead to a global conflagration that would put an end to human civilization?

Apparently not.

American scholar and dissident Noam Chomsky, in a recent radio interview, noted that the United States and other NATO countries sending weapons to Ukraine was nothing new.

“Beginning in 2014, the United States and NATO began to flood Ukraine with weapons — advanced weapons, military training, joint military exercises, measures to integrate Ukraine into the military command of the NATO. There is no secret about this. It was pretty open,” Chomsky said, adding that Stoltenberg recently “bragged about it.”

“So criminality and stupidity on the Kremlin side, harsh provocation on the American side. That’s the context that led to this,” Chomsky said of the war. “Can we try to end this horror? Or should we try to perpetuate it? These are the choices.

“There’s only one way to end it. It’s diplomacy,” he said. “Now diplomacy, by definition, means that both sides accept it. They don’t like it, but they accept it as the least bad option.”

In the absence of diplomatic negotiations – which Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova publicly blamed on the United States earlier this week – bodies continue to pile up in Ukraine. The New York Times released a special report on the war dead on Saturday.

About a fifth of Ukraine is now under Russian control, and “the Ukrainian army is suffering heavy losses. According to the government’s own estimates, as many as 200 soldiers die every day,” said the Time reported. “In April, Western countries estimated that Russia had lost around 15,000 troops in Ukraine; on Friday, Ukraine estimated 33,000.”

The newspaper also addressed the unknown but significant civilian death toll:

In its latest updates, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said 4,509 civilians had been killed in the conflict. But it is clear that many thousands more have been killed. Ukraine’s police chief Ihor Klymenko said last week that prosecutors had opened criminal charges “for the deaths of more than 12,000 people found, among others, in mass graves”.

And in Mariupol, the Black Sea city razed by Russian bombardment, Ukrainian officials in exile said examinations of mass graves using satellite images, testimonies and other evidence had led them to believe that at least 22,000 people had been killed, and possibly thousands more. .

“Children are not protected from indiscriminate violence,” said the Time Noted. “The UN agency for the protection of children in emergencies has estimated that at least three children have died every day since the start of the war in February. This is only an estimate.”

Amnesty International has also released a new report highlighting civilian deaths. The rights group said on Monday that Russian forces’ use of cluster munitions in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, “constitutes war crimes”.

“The repeated use of widely banned cluster munitions is shocking and further evidence of the utter disregard for civilian lives,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser. “The Russian forces responsible for these horrific attacks must be held accountable for their actions, and the victims and their families must receive full reparations.”

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