Russia Ukraine War NATO

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, welcomes NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg walk before their press conference in Kyiv Ukraine on Monday. Efrem Lukatsky/Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine — NATO countries haven’t delivered what they promised to Ukraine in time, the alliance’s chief said Monday, allowing Russia to press its advantage while Kyiv’s depleted forces wait for military supplies to arrive from the U.S. and Europe.

“Serious delays in support have meant serious consequences on the battlefield” for Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference in Kyiv with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Outgunned, Ukraine’s troops have struggled to fend off Russian advances on the battlefield. They were recently compelled to make a tactical retreat from three villages in the east, where the Kremlin’s forces have been making incremental gains, Ukraine’s army chief said Sunday. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed Monday its forces had also taken the village of Semenivka.

“The lack of ammunition has allowed the Russians to push forward along the front line. Lack of air defense has made it possible for more Russian missiles to hit their targets, and the lack of deep strike capabilities has made it possible for the Russians to concentrate more forces,” Stoltenberg said.

Kyiv’s Western partners have repeatedly vowed to stand with Ukraine “for as long as it takes.” But vital U.S. military help was held up for six months by political differences in Washington, and Europe’s military hardware production has not kept up with demand. Ukraine’s own manufacturing of heavy weapons is only now starting to gain traction.

Now, Ukraine and its Western partners are racing to deploy critical new military aid that can help check the slow and costly but steady Russian advance across eastern areas, as well as thwart drone and missile attacks.


Zelensky said new Western supplies have started arriving, but slowly. “This process must be speeded up,” he said at the news conference with Stoltenberg.

Though the 600-mile front line has shifted little since early in the war, the Kremlin’s forces in recent weeks have edged forward, especially in the Donetsk region, with sheer numbers and massive firepower used to bludgeon defensive positions.

Russia Ukraine War

Nurses clean up in the room after a Russian attack on mental hospital №3 in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Saturday. Andrii Marienko/Associated Press

Russia also continues to launch missiles, drones and bombs at cities across Ukraine. Two people were killed and eight injured in a Russian missile strike on residential buildings and “civil infrastructure” in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa on Monday, regional governor Oleh Kiper said on the Telegram messaging site.

Russia is a far bigger country than Ukraine, with greater resources. It has also received weapons support from Iran and North Korea, the U.S. government says.

Drawn-out Ukrainian efforts to mobilize more troops, and the belated building of battlefield fortifications, are other factors undermining Ukraine’s war effort, military analysts say.

Nick Reynolds, a research fellow for land warfare at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, said the war “is still largely an artillery duel.”


He said he did not expect to see major movement of the front lines in the near term, but that “the conditions are being set for which side has military advantage at the front line. The Russian military is in a better position at the moment.

“When we see one side or the other being in a position to move the front line, at some stage, maneuver will be restored to the battlefield. Not in the next few weeks, maybe not even in the next few months. But it will happen,” he told The Associated Press.

Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh, at a briefing with reporters Monday, also acknowledged Russia’s recent battlefield gains, noting that a delay in congressional approval for additional spending “set the Ukrainians back.”

NATO chief Stoltenberg, however, said more weapons and ammunition for Ukraine are on the way, including Patriot missile systems to defend against heavy Russian barrages that smash into the power grid and urban areas.

Ukrainian officials say Russia is assembling forces for a major summer offensive, even if its troops are making only incremental gains at the moment.

“Russian forces remain unlikely to achieve a deeper operationally significant penetration in the area in the near term,” the Institute for the Study of War said in an assessment Sunday.


Even so, the Kremlin’s forces are closing in on the strategically important hilltop town of Chasiv Yar, whose capture would be an important step forward into the Donetsk region.

Donetsk and Luhansk form much of the industrial Donbas region, which has been gripped by separatist fighting since 2014, and which Putin has set as a primary objective of the Russian invasion. Russia illegally annexed areas of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions in September 2022.


Associated Press writer Tara Copp in Washington contributed reporting.

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