Nato countries urged to ‘stay the course’ in support for Ukraine as winter sets in

Ukrainian counter-offensive has not made as much progress in pushing back Russia’s front line as some had hoped

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg urged members of the alliance to “stay the course” in supporting Ukraine to push back Russia’s invasion as foreign ministers gathered for talks in Brussels.

Ukraine is suffering severe winter weather that has knocked out electricity in parts of the country, deepening the struggle of authorities to keep essential services running as it braces for a resumption of Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure.

“We just have to stay the course. This is about also our security interests,” Mr Stoltenberg told reporters as he arrived at the meeting of foreign ministers in the Nato headquarters. “It’s our obligation to ensure that we provide Ukraine with the weapons they need.”

A Ukrainian counter-offensive has not made as much progress in pushing back Russia’s front line as some had hoped, and there is now nervousness about whether western support for Kyiv will hold strong as attention is consumed by the war in Gaza.


In the European Union, Hungary has threatened to block all aid to Ukraine and its bid for membership of the bloc unless the union agrees to review its entire strategy of supporting the country.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken sought to reassure allies of the commitment of the United States in his attendance at the summit amid fears that next year’s presidential election could disrupt Kyiv’s most important military partnership.

The visit was aimed at “strongly reaffirming our support for Ukraine as it continues to face Russia’s war of aggression”, he told reporters.

Officials in Kyiv have denied that its allies have moved to encourage it to enter peace talks.

After German media reported Berlin would scale back weapons deliveries to pressure Ukraine to the negotiating table, chancellor Olaf Scholz reaffirmed Germany’s support for Ukraine in a speech to the Bundestag.

“We will continue with this support as long as it is necessary. This support is of existential importance. For Ukraine ... but also for us in Europe,” Mr Scholz said. “None of us want to imagine what even more serious consequences it would have for us if Putin won this war.”

Krisjanis Karins, the foreign minister of strong Ukraine ally Latvia, said delays in weapons deliveries had allowed Russian forces to dig in and build their defensive lines, making the counter-offensive “much more difficult than maybe some imagined early on”.

“If there was an expectation that a counter-offensive would be lightning fast and happen overnight that’s clearly not the case, but when we look at the actual numbers we see Ukrainians inflicting damage on Russian equipment and personnel on a daily basis,” he told reporters.

Bulgarian foreign minister Mariya Gabriel told reporters that Ukraine’s allies should not make promises that couldn’t be met.

“Today it’s more than ever important to support Ukraine as long as it takes, but at the same time really to be proactive and to define what will be the next steps in order to not create expectations that we will not be able to fulfil.”

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times