Latvian minister urges Nato and EU to develop 'strategic endurance' as Kyiv fears Russian bombardment could prevail in south-east region say James Crisp, Europe Editor; Nicola Smith, Asia Correspondent, in Kyiv and James Kilner
The West must adopt a “war-footing” and arm Ukraine properly to defeat Russia, Latvia said on Saturday as Ukrainian officials warned that Vladimir Putin’s army could still win his war.
In separate interviews with The Telegraph, Edgars Rinkēvičs, Latvia’s foreign minister, warned that the West needed to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” and Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, said that the army needed more heavy weapons.
Mr Rinkēvičs said that Eastern European countries had now largely run out of Soviet-era tanks and weapons to send to Kyiv and that Western Europe needed to step up production to meet the threat from Russia.
“The EU and Nato need what I call strategic endurance,” he said. “Unfortunately, like it or not, because of Russia, we are back in a situation where the military defence is a priority for Europe and for Nato.”
Mr Rinkēvičs, who praised UK support for Ukraine, said that some countries had “psychological difficulties” in taking a tough line on Moscow but that a “war-footing” towards weapons production was the necessary approach to bring peace.
“Russia will be talking only when there are two elements. Number one, when they understand that the military advance has been stopped and secondly when they will be pushed back by Ukrainian forces,” he said.
Despite repelling the Russian army from the gates of Kyiv in March, Ukrainian officials have said that Russia could still triumph in Donbas where it has concentrated its firepower. Analysts have said that Russia can outgun Ukraine by 20 to 1 in artillery duels.
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Ukrainian soldiers load a shell to a CAESAR self-propelled howitzer before firing towards Russian positions but the West has been urged to send the army more heavy weapons Credit: Reuters