‘Ukraine To Join NATO In Long-Term”; Clashes Intensify
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
HELSINKI/KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – The secretary general of NATO effectively warned Moscow on Monday that Ukraine would become a military alliance member in the “long term” as frontline clashes intensified and Kyiv’s military hit targets deep inside Russia.
Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged that Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, launched on February 24 last year, complicated a fast NATO entry for the wartorn nation.
Despite objections from Russia, Stoltenberg stressed that “NATO allies have agreed that Ukraine will become a member of our alliance, but at the same time, that is a long-term perspective.”
Stoltenberg spoke to reporters in Finland’s capital Helsinki as the Nordic country and neighboring Sweden seek to join NATO.
Hungary, the only country among European Union states that are part of the alliance which did not yet ratify their entry, was to hold a parliamentary debate on the two nations’ NATO membership Wednesday.
Besides Hungary, Turkey is the only other NATO member that did not yet ratify the alliance’s further expansion. Stoltenberg visited Finland amid new reports of fierce clashes in the city of Bakhmut on the eastern front line.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky admitted that the situation is becoming “more and more difficult,” with many forces being killed and injured on both sides.
Russian troops have been trying to take the city for over six months, and Worthy News monitored footage of severe shelling injuring and shell-shocking people in the area. Amid these setbacks, Zelensky dismissed Ukraine’s joint forces commander, Major General Eduard Mykhailovich Moskalov, who had served in the role overseeing battles in the Donbas region since last March.
He is the latest in a series of Ukrainian leadership changes since the Russian military invasion began in February last year after several high-profile Ukrainian officials were fired or resigned over allegations of corruption.
Yet despite these security challenges, there were also indications Monday that Ukraine can increasingly strike targets deep inside Russia.
Kyiv also managed to carry out cyber attacks. On Monday, the Kremlin struggled to calm the population in several regions as a hacking attack caused Russian regional broadcasters to put out a false warning on Tuesday, the emergencies ministry admitted.
The broadcasts urged people to take shelter from an incoming missile attack. “As a result of the hacking of servers of radio stations and TV channels, in some regions of the country, information about the announcement of an air alert was broadcast,” the ministry said. “This information is false and does not correspond to reality.”
Among the regions where the fake messages were broadcast was Crimea, the peninsula Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 in a move not widely internationally recognized.
On regional TV, an image was shown with a symbol of a man running for cover from incoming missiles and a message reading, “Everybody to the shelter, now.”
A similar attack caused commercial radio stations in some Russian regions to send air alarm messages last Wednesday.
Separately, Russian media reported that flights at Pulkovo airport in St Petersburg resumed after they were stopped when an unknown object was spotted flying near it.
It came as Russian authorities were on edge following an overnight fire at a southern Russian oil depot following an apparent Ukrainian drone spotted.
Emergency services put out the fire in the Russian town of Tuapse after it “spread to an area of about 200 square meters,” local officials said. “The oil tanks were not affected. There was no spill of oil products. No injuries,” added Sergei Boyko, leading the local administration.
However, it suggested that Ukraine was preparing to target deep inside Russia as Tuapse lies on Russia’s southern coast, about 240 km (149 miles) southeast of the Crimean peninsula.
Moscow has previously reported sporadic incidents at oil and natural gas infrastructure in regions near Ukraine since the war started a year ago. Russian officials have often blamed Kyiv for sending drones into Russian territory.
A military drone also attempted to strike a natural gas facility in the Moscow region, according to a senior Russian official. Photos of the wreckage suggested it was Ukrainian-made, indicating attempts to hit hundreds of miles behind Russian lines.
The alleged attack was one of several reports of successful or attempted unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) strikes in at least four regions of Russia.
On Monday, the Moscow region governor, Andrei Vorobyov, confirmed a UAV crash-landed in the village of Gubastovo near the capital and was apparently aiming for a “civilian infrastructure site.”
With Ukraine striking Russia and trench-for-trench battles in eastern Ukraine, a senior U.S. military official said the United States did not expect Russia to make significant territorial gains in Ukraine soon.
Colin Kahl, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, told a House of Representatives hearing: “I do not think that there’s anything I see that suggests the Russians can sweep across Ukraine and make significant territorial gains anytime in the next year or so.”
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