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Trust deficit primary challenge to overcome: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2023-12-04 20:06
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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Sunday that the military alliance should "be prepared for bad news" from Ukraine as Russia's special military operation there continues into its 22nd month.

"We have to support Ukraine in both good and bad times," Stoltenberg said in an interview with German public broadcaster ARD. Commenting on the situation in Ukraine, Stoltenberg said that there had been no significant developments on the battlefield over the past few months and the course of events was difficult to predict, describing it as "a battle for efficiency, a battle for logistics".

A few days earlier, ahead of the meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs, he said there was intense fighting along the front line and NATO "needed to be prepared for more fighting". The front line on the battlefield has basically remained unchanged this year despite the sustained supplies of military equipment and other support NATO has provided Ukraine.

Winter is expected to freeze the battlefield stalemate in place, while the upcoming US presidential and congressional campaigns have prompted speculation that Ukraine will receive less military and economic assistance from the United States, which has been the main sponsor of Ukraine.

The US has directed more than $75 billion in assistance to the country since the conflict started nearly two years ago. Yet a recent Associated Press poll in the US showed nearly half of Americans think too much is being spent on Ukraine. An increasing number of Republicans are not in favor of sending more aid, and it is not clear if or when a request from the White House for additional aid will be approved by Congress. Considering all this, as well as the increasing casualties, economic suffering and destruction throughout the country, a negotiated settlement may be becoming a more tempting choice for Ukraine.

Continued hostilities benefit no parties, and dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. All countries should support Russia and Ukraine deescalating the tensions and working toward resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible, which may pave the way for a cease-fire or even a permanent agreement based on the principles of the UN Charter.

That will mean turning a deaf ear to the insidious warmongering of hawks such as Stoltenberg, who as a cobwebbed Cold War warrior animated by outdated animosities has done much to harness NATO to Washington's war chariot. Exhilarated by this, he is now keen for NATO to crusade into Asia.

In his remarks to the media after the NATO foreign ministers' meeting he again tried to yoke China with Russia as an "aggressor", and implied that Russia was becoming much more dependent on China, "mortgaging its future to Beijing", as he said three times in a brief news conference.

It is such perfidious talk that makes it hard for some to embrace the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. 

The issue of security bears on the well-being of all countries and peoples. Overcoming the trust deficits that exist is the primary challenge that needs to be overcome to ensure that the historical trends of peace, development and win-win cooperation prevail.

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