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Is fatigue over the war in Ukraine settling across the EU?

A change of tone in the statements of NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, on the war in Ukraine ahead of a meeting of the alliance's foreign affairs ministers could be an indication that conversations are happening behind closed doors among allies about what a possible end to the conflict could look like.

Some analysts, including Judy Dempsey from Carnegie Europe, think that Stoltenberg was, in a press conference on Monday, a little bit removed from how he has been in the past, where he has spoken about defending Kyiv come what may.

"I was left wondering, why did he say that Ukraine had already recaptured 50% of its territory?" Dempsey told Euronews.

"And I was thinking to myself, now, is this a sign that maybe ΝΑΤΟ is thinking about the future of Ukraine?"

Despite all the official reassurances of continued support for Ukraine, the EU is struggling to keep its word, amid disappointment over its summer counteroffensive and leaders’ attention shifting to the Israel-Hamas war.

Although no European leader would say it officially, there is a growing feeling that the war in Ukraine will not end soon, somewhat adding pressure on possible negotiations.

Brussels denies war fatigue

But at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday between the EU's foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, and the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, both of them denied any pressure.

"I don't see any sign of members having what you call fatigue. Everybody is concerned, everybody recognises the success of the Ukrainians," Borrell said.

"And I am sure that member states will continue supporting Ukraine because it is an existential issue for us. We cannot afford to get tired."

According to Dempsey, the real problem is that Russian President Vladimir Putin seems in no hurry to even think of the word negotiations.

At this stage, it would be tough for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to enter into negotiations, especially if this would affect the territorial sovereignty of the country.

"I think some European countries would accept the exchange of land for peace. This is very complicated, highly political, highly emotional," Dempsey said.

"But President Zelenskyy himself would be the person who would have to make this decision, but it is a kind of treacherous decision as well."

NATO's support could play an important role in the future of the conflict and the possibility of Ukraine becoming a member of the alliance could be crucial.