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NATO chief: Ukraine making progress in counteroffensive


By Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said Ukraine is making progress in its counteroffensive against Russian invaders and predicted NATO leaders will increase military assistance to Kyiv when they meet next month.

Stoltenberg made the comments as he met in the Oval Office with President Joe Biden, who said the U.S. commitment to NATO was rock solid.

Stoltenberg visited the White House amid questions on whether his term in Brussels will be extended. He is currently scheduled to leave at the end of September after nine years in the post.

His visit came as Ukraine attempts to seize back Ukrainian ground taken by the Russians as part of a long-awaited counter-offensive against the invaders.

“The support that we are providing together to Ukraine is now making a difference on the battlefield as we speak, because the offensive is launched and Ukrainians are making progress,” he said.

“It’s still early days, but what we do know is that the more land Ukrainians are able to liberate, the stronger hand they will have at the negotiating table.”

He said more aid will be pledged at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in mid-July.

“That’s exactly what we’ll do when we meet – all the NATO leaders – at the summit in Vilnius next month, where we (will) agree to sustain and step up our support for Ukraine,” he said.

Biden, who has sought to keep NATO allies united against Russia since the war broke out in February 2022, said: “God willing we’ll be able to keep this unity up.”

Many NATO members would like a decision on who will head the alliance when leaders meet in Lithuania.

That does not give NATO’s 31 nations, spanning from the United States through new member Finland to Turkey, much time to forge the consensus needed to pick a new leader.

Stoltenberg did not answer when asked whether his tenure would be extended.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Chizu Nomiyama)

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