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Ukraine: NATO chief warns war may be a 'long haul'
The head of NATO says Ukraine's fight against Russia could take longer than had been hoped, with Moscow's forces deeply embedded in already occupied territory
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Ukraine's allies must accept that Ukraine's war against Russia might take longer than had been hoped.
The conflict is concentrated in the south and east of the country, where Russia had prepared its defensive lines for months ahead of Kyiv's offensive this year.
Stoltenberg said Ukraine would still need support to remain a sovereign state and end the Russian invasion.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited a military command center in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don.
Ukrainian air defenses repel Russian drones in several regions
Ukraine has reported a new wave of Russian drone attacks, with air defenses active around the capital Kyiv late on Friday evening, the local military administration announced on Telegram.
There was initially no information about possible casualties or damage. People were ordered to seek shelter in basements and other safe shelters.
Drone attacks were also reported from other parts of the country, including Kharkiv in the east and Kherson in the south.
Meanwhile, according to official Ukrainian reports, the Black Sea region of Odessa was bombarded with rockets on Friday evening. At least three people were injured.
IMF reached an agreement with Ukraine on $900 million disbursement
The International Monetary Fund said it had reached a staff-level agreement with Ukraine on updated economic and financial policies under a four-year lending arrangement, paving the way for a $900 million (€840 million) disbursement once approved by the board.
The IMF said its executive board was expected to consider the agreement in coming weeks.
It said Ukraine met all quantitative performance criteria set for the end of June, and indicative targets for the end of September, as well as most of the structural benchmarks set under the IMF's Extended Fund Facility program.
Kremlin defends using convicts in Ukraine war
More than 20 months after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has defended its much-criticized practice of releasing convicted criminals from prison for military service.
"The convicts, including serious criminals, pay for their crime with blood on the battlefield," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Tens of thousands of Russians convicted of violent crimes including murder and rape have been recruited to fight in Ukraine.
Russian media outlets have reported several instances of released prisoners going on to commit serious offences, including murders, after having left the army.
Hungary's Orban says opposed to opening Ukraine EU accession process
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has spoken out against opening negotiations for Ukraine to join the EU, after the European Commission recommended that leaders vote in favor of the idea at their summit next month.
"Ukraine is in no way in a condition to negotiate over its desires to join," Orban said on public radio on Friday.
He said that the country, which sought EU membership in the aftermath of Russia's invasion, was "light years" away from EU membership.
The leaders of the 27 existing EU members would need to unanimously vote to start accession talks with Ukraine — an often lengthy process that can take years or even decades — in order for the process to start.
Orban retains particularly close ties to Russia and President Vladimir Putin by the standards of EU leaders, with close trade and energy links among other connections. He held a personal meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a summit in Beijing a few weeks ago.
The Hungarian leader said his position was not connected to frozen EU funds earmarked for Hungary, in other words claiming his position was not a bartering position aiming to recover the funds.
"Hungary's position of rejecting the start of accession talks with Ukraine cannot become part of any deal," Orban said.
He said that the issue could not be connected to any "financial questons."
Putin visits Rostov-on-Don military HQ
Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited a military command center in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don for an update on military operations.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimo accompanied him.
At the headquarters, Putin saw new weapons and technology and was briefed on the state of the war.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov gave no further details of the visit, which came a day after Putin was in Kazakhstan to meet
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev for talks about closer military cooperation.
It is apparently the fifth time the Russian president has met his top commanders in the southern military district, the last time being on October 20.
NATO chief tells Kviv's allies to prepare for long haul
The Secretary-General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, says he is counting on the Ukrainian armed forces to make advances, but warned that it might take some time.
Stoltenberg said providing support to Kyiv was the only way to ensure that Ukraine remained a sovereign and democratic state — and convince Russian President Vladimir Putin that he could not win on the battlefield.
"We need to be prepared for [the] long haul. Wars are, by nature, unpredictable," Stoltenberg told the DPA news agency while visiting Berlin.
"What we do know is that what happens around a negotiating table is inextricably linked to the situation on the battlefield," he said.
The fighting in Ukraine is still concentrated around the east and south.
Progress has been limited since Ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive earlier this year.
Stoltenberg said it had always been clear that it would not be easy for Ukraine to win back all of its territory.
"We knew that Russia has prepared defensive lines for months — with mines, with tank trenches, with a lot of defensive positions."
Nevertheless, the Ukrainians "have been able to make gains and to liberate more territory," he said.
Germany's Scholz doubles down on 2% military spending pledge
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says he will ensure that his country meets the commitment of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defense, even after a fund set aside especially becomes exhausted.
The 2% figure is a goal of the NATO military alliance, but Scholz only firmly committed to it after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which he described as a turning point.
The fund was specifically set up to modernize the Bundeswehr after the war in Ukraine raised questions about Germany's military readiness for any real combat scenario.
"The global political situation confirms how important and necessary this change of course is," said Scholz, pointing to the Kremlin's war on Ukraine as one reason for the commitment.
Published: 14 Nov 2023, 10:33 AM