Fri, 08 Dec 2023

Kyiv [Ukraine], September 29 (ANI): The Ukrainian troops are"gradually gaining ground," in their counteroffensive against tight Russian defence lines in southeastern Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, CNN reported on Thursday.

"Today your [Ukraine's] forces are moving forward, they face fierce fighting, but they are gradually gaining ground," Stoltenberg said alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, during an unannounced visit to Kyiv.

"Every meter that Ukrainian forces gain is a meter that Russia loses," CNN quoted him as saying.

"Ukrainians are fighting for their families their future, their freedom," Stoltenberg said, adding that "Moscow is fighting for imperial delusions.""Ukraine has strong backing from 31 NATO allies and many partners...In total, more than 50 nations support and supply you through that Ukraine defence contact group and over 140 nations stood up for your sovereignty at the United Nations," CNN quoted Stoltenberg as saying.

"Meanwhile, Russia is diminished on the world stage, cut off from international markets," he added.

The transatlantic military alliance has donated billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine but it has so far stopped short of granting the country accession into the alliance, despite repeated requests from Kyiv.

Stoltenberg said NATO has framework contracts in place for 2.4 billion euros (USD 2.53 billion) worth of"key ammunition" for Ukraine, including 1 billion euros (USD 1.54 billion) of firm orders, CNN reported.

"This covers capabilities like 155-millimetre artillery and tank guided missiles and main battle tank ammunition," he added.

"This will help allies to refill their stocks while continuing to support Ukraine. The stronger Ukraine becomes the closer we come to ending Russia's aggression, Russia could lay down arms and end its war today," CNN quoted Stoltenberg as saying.

Earlier in the day, Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov met UK counterpart Grant Shapps in Kyiv. The two leaders spoke about Ukraine's demand for increased air defences, artillery and anti-drone systems.

Earlier, UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps held a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Zelenskyy thanked Shapps for the UK's financial, defence and humanitarian support for Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict with Russia.

Last week, the US announced a new set of security assistance for Ukraine. Under this, Washington will provide USD 128 million in new security assistance and the Department of Defence will give USD 198 million in arms and equipment under previously directed drawdowns. (ANI)

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