Russian President Vladimir Putin “made a big strategic mistake” in invading Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as the war reached its three-month mark with no end in sight. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accused Russia of “trying to trample the aspirations of an entire nation with tanks.”
Meanwhile, the European Union is facing a continued hurdle in its bid to phase out imports of Russian oil: Hungary is not yet on board. Concerns from Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban were outlined in a letter to European Council President Charles Michel, according to an E.U. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. And in an interview in Davos, von der Leyen told Politico there was no guarantee of a deal next week, when there will be a special European Council session in Brussels.
As the war continues, Russia has increased the intensity of its operations in Donbas, seeking to surround the cities of Severodonetsk, Lysychansk and Rubizhne, the British Defense Ministry said Tuesday, adding that capturing Severodonetsk could give Russia control over the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine. A regional official said Severodonetsk remains under Ukrainian control but is being pummeled mercilessly by nearby Russian forces that are “destroying the city completely.”