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NATO chief cautions members not to underestimate Russia's military might

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a joint statement at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on June 22, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

NATO member states should not underestimate the Russian military power, despite the short-lived mutiny against it by the Wagner group, said the chief of the US-led military alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, while pointing out that it has increased its readiness to confront Russia in recent days.

“We all saw the events in Russia over the last [few] days. These are internal Russian matters,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference in The Hague on Tuesday.

“At the same time, we must not underestimate Russia,” said the head of the bloc, adding that NATO members will continue their military support for Kiev and send “a clear message of our commitment” at a summit in Lithuania next month.

Stoltenberg went further to claim that Ukrainian troops were “making progress” in their offensive against Russia, arguing that the more territory Kiev manages to retake, “the stronger their hand will eventually be at the negotiating table.”

Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry said that Ukrainian forces have suffered significant losses while failing to breach defensive lines in Donbas and the Zaporizhzhia Region.

 A significant number of German-made Leopard 2 heavy tanks and US-made Bradley combat vehicles were destroyed or abandoned during Ukraine’s offensive operations this month.

The New York Times cited US officials earlier this week as saying that Ukraine had failed to capitalize on the sudden Wagner mutiny.

The unrest broke out late on Friday, taking less than a day, when the private military company’s boss Evgeny Prigozhin made a reconciliation with the authorities. The Wagner fighters have returned to their bases since then.

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