NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday said that only Ukraine can decide when to enter peace talks to end the war with Russia and vowed the alliance’s support for an open-ended conflict.
“It is the Ukrainians, and only the Ukrainians, who can decide when there are conditions in place for negotiations and who can decide at the negotiating table what is an acceptable solution,” Stoltenberg said.
His comments came after his chief of staff, Stian Jenssen, drew a backlash for suggesting on Tuesday that Ukraine could cede territory to Russia in exchange for NATO membership, an idea both Ukrainian and Russian officials scoffed at. Jenssen appeared to walk back his comments on Wednesday, saying he made a “mistake.”
Stoltenberg said that the only path to a settlement is “to support Ukraine militarily. If you want a lasting, just peace, then military support for Ukraine is the way to get there. There is no doubt about that.” The NATO chief has made similar comments throughout the war and previously said sending more weapons is the quickest path toward peace.
But Ukrainian officials are demanding a full Russian withdrawal before negotiations can happen, which is a non-starter for talks with Moscow. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appear ready to keep their forces fighting as long as they have support from the US and NATO despite the fact that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has been failing.