War in Ukraine could last for years as Boris warns West ‘we need to steel ourselves’

Russian soldiers in Lugansk region of Ukraine appear to surrender

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Western leaders argue that Ukraine will need long term military support if it has any chance of success. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that those in the West need to “steel ourselves” for a long conflict.

Writing in The Sunday Times, he said: “I am afraid that we need to steel ourselves for a long war, as Putin resorts to a campaign of attrition, trying to grind down Ukraine by sheer brutality.

“The UK and our friends must respond by ensuring that Ukraine has the strategic endurance to survive and eventually prevail.

“All will require a determined effort by the UK and our allies, lasting for months and years.”

Mr Johnson’s comments were reiterated by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in an interview with the German newspaper Bild.

He said: “We must prepare for the fact that it could take years.

“We must not let up in supporting Ukraine.”

Mr Stoltenberg added that the price of a long term commitment to Ukraine was justified despite the cost of military commitment along with rising food and energy prices.

This was because the West would pay a much higher price if Russia was to succeed in occupying parts of Ukraine long term.

The comments from Mr Johnson and Mr Stoltenberg indicate that Western leaders believe that Ukraine is unable to make any rapid military advances.

This is despite the arrival of NATO standard weaponry which Kyiv has repeatedly requested.

Ukrainian forces are on the defensive in the Donbas as fierce fighting continues in the city of Sievierodonestsk.

Luhansk region governor Serhiy Haidai told Ukrainian television that Russia was massing its forces to take full control of the city. 

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He said: “Today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, they will throw in all the reserves they have … Because there are so many of them there already, they’re at critical mass.”

Mr Haidai added that Russia already controls most of Sievierodonestsk and if Ukraine loses control of the city, fighting is likely to focus on neighbouring Lysychansk.

Oleksandr Starukh, the governor of the Zaporizhzhia region argued that Ukraine needs more weapons to avoid the war dragging on into the winter.

He said: “We need these weapons because winter is coming.”

Mr Starukh added that Ukraine will face greater economic pressure if the war drags on.

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