According to Reuters, the road leading to the Ukrainian settlement of Storozheve, which was freed from Russian forces last week, is littered with burned-out armored vehicles and Russian military bodies.
When Reuters journalists arrived in the area yesterday, some of the dead Russian soldiers’ corpses were still lying next to the wrecks of their vehicles on the dusted ground. Others were discovered dead, crumpled, discarded nearby in the grass and fields.
“Three days ago we liberated the village of Storozheve. You can see for yourselves how it was achieved. You can see the destroyed hardware. Glory to Ukraine,” a Ukrainian soldier who gave his name only as Artem told Reuters in Storozheve.
The desolate setting testifies to the intensity of the combat as Ukrainian forces, as part of a counteroffensive in southern and eastern Ukraine, recently retook Storozheve, which had been held by Russia since March of last year, as well as a number of other villages.
Nato ministers meet to discuss future relations with Ukraine
The future of relations with Ukraine, which has stepped up its efforts to join the military alliance since Russia’s invasion, is the topic of today’s meeting of Nato’s defence ministers.
The ministers were also scheduled to attend a separate meeting of the US-led Ukraine Contact Group, which was held at the Nato headquarters. Supporters of Ukraine regularly attend this forum in an effort to raise funds for guns and ammunition to aid Kyiv in its defense against the Russian invasion.
Although Ukraine would eventually join, the alliance did not establish a deadline for when membership negotiations would begin. In September of last year, Ukraine submitted an application for “accelerated accession” to the military bloc after Vladimir Putin’s incursion ignited new discussion of Kyiv’s participation.
There isn’t a consensus, according to Nato commander Jens Stoltenberg, for the nation to join while at war with Russia.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, he said: “We agree that the most urgent task now is to ensure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign independent nation because unless Ukraine prevails and can continue as a democratic state in Europe, there is no membership issue to be discussed at all.”
Stoltenberg said that he expects the 31-nation alliance to “agree [to] a multi-year program where we help to move Ukraine to transition from old standards, equipment, procedures, doctrines to Nato standards and become fully interoperable with Nato.”