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US and NATO note gains from Ukraine’s military, but see war dragging on

BRUSSELS — The Ukrainian military has made significant early progress in its counteroffensive against Russian forces in southern and eastern Ukraine, but the fighting appears to drag on for months, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chief of NATO.

Blinken, who was at NATO headquarters to brief all 29 US allies after a trip to kyiv on Thursday, said the six-month war in Ukraine is entering a critical period and urged supporters westerners from the conflict-torn country to maintain their support in the coming months and through the winter.

“Initial signs are positive, and we see that Ukraine is deliberately making real and demonstrable progress,” Blinken said, referring to the recent push into southern Ukraine and the eastern Donbas region by local forces.

“But this is likely to continue for a significant period of time,” he said. “There are a lot of Russian forces that are in Ukraine and unfortunately, tragically, horribly, President (Vladimir) Putin has shown that he will throw a lot of people into this at enormous cost to Russia.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the invasion launched by Putin in February is “entering a critical phase.”

“Ukrainian forces have been able to stop Moscow’s offensive in Donbas, strike back behind Russian lines and retake the territory,” he said.

But Stoltenberg warned that the allies’ unity would be tested in the coming months, “with the pressure on energy supplies and the rising cost of living caused by Russia’s war.” He renewed calls for allies to supply special uniforms, generators, tents and equipment to help Ukraine’s army weather the coming winter.

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