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Russia gaining upper hand in Ukraine war

Russia is gaining the advantage in the war in Ukraine owing to a greater number of troops and materiel supplied by China, North Korea and other countries, Norway’s intelligence service has warned.

Presenting its annual risk report along with other Norwegian security services, the head of the military intelligence unit Nils Andreas Stensønes said Ukraine would need “extensive” Western military aide to turn the situation around.

“In this war, Russia is currently in a stronger position than it was a year ago and is in the process of gaining the advantage,” Mr Stensønes told reporters.

He said Russia “could mobilise around three times more troops than Ukraine”, that “Moscow is tackling sanctions better than expected”, and its industry can now produce enough munitions, combat vehicles, drones and missiles to enable its troops to “maintain their war effort all year.”

Russia is also receiving military support from North Korea, Iran, Belarus and China, he added.

A tank firing at Bakhmut where fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces continues

China had not supplied arms, but “machines, vehicles, electronics, and spare parts” needed by Russia’s arms industry.

“Extensive Western weapons aid would be needed for Ukrainian forces to be able to defend themselves and regain the initiative in the conflict,” Mr Stensønes said.

He highlighted Ukraine’s requests for munitions, long-distance weapons, air defences, tanks and fighter jets.

Norway has, together with Denmark and the Netherlands, agreed to provide Ukraine with the F-16 fighter jets it has requested from its allies.

“Norway and Europe must be ready to take more responsibility to ensure their own security and that of their allies,” Norwegian defence minister Bjørn Arild Gram said.

The US has been Ukraine’s main military donor since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

However, Congress has failed to agree on new aid and the prospect of Donald Trump returning to the White House have put greater responsibility on Europe to step up.

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