Russia claims full control of Lysychansk oil refinery while Ukraine admits only ‘partial success’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN that Russian President Vladimir Putin underestimated both Ukraine’s resilience and the unity of the NATO military alliance.

« He [Putin] made a big mistake; he totally underestimated the strength of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the courage of the Ukrainian leadership and the Ukrainian people, and he also underestimated the unity of NATO and its partners in supporting Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told CNN’s top international anchor Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

Speaking at the NATO summit in Madrid, Stoltenberg said Putin had failed to achieve his goals when it came to weakening the NATO alliance.

« One of his main messages at the start of this war was that he wanted less NATO. He actually offered to sign an agreement to have no more NATO enlargement. What he is getting now , it’s more NATO and two new NATO members, including Finland with a border … with Russia, doubling NATO’s border with Russia,” he told Amanpour.

« That doesn’t mean we don’t see the seriousness of the difficulties Ukraine is facing in the Donbass, » Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg told CNN he was ignoring Putin’s rhetoric and would « evaluate him on his actions. »

“What he is doing in Ukraine is a brutal violation of international law. It is a war that has had many civilian casualties, civilians killed and huge casualties,” he told CNN.

The achievements of the NATO summit in Madrid are a « victory » for the military alliance, according to Stoltenberg.

« It is a victory for NATO that we have once again demonstrated our unity and our ability to change, to adapt when the world changes, » the NATO chief said.

« We live in a world where we are witnessing the brutal use of force against a close NATO neighbour, a close NATO partner in Ukraine, and that is why we have significantly strengthened and will further strengthen our presence in the eastern part of the alliance to eliminate any possibility of miscalculation or misunderstanding in Moscow about our willingness to protect and defend all allies,” he said.

“It’s deterrence, and the purpose of deterrence is to prevent conflict. And that is exactly what NATO has been doing for more than 70 years: preventing conflict and preserving peace,” he added.

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