Ukraine-Russia War: Latest News – The New York Times

Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

BRUSSELS — NATO defense ministers meet on Wednesday with the future of the grueling war of attrition in Ukraine on their minds.

The two-day gathering comes as the battle for the eastern Ukraine enters a critical stage, with Russia grinding out steady gains and controlling most of the resource-rich Donbas region. Ukraine has begged for more heavy arms to counter Moscow’s superiority in long-range artillery.

The meeting may provide a measure of how much the initial unity among Western allies, who swiftly responded to Russia’s invasion with sanctions and massive arms shipments, has frayed as their economies have grappled with rising inflation and gas prices. Some NATO members are anxious, and want to avoid a long, stalemated war. Still, a top Pentagon official repeated the standard American position on Tuesday that the United States would not pressure Ukraine into negotiating a cease-fire, that such decisions are up to the democratically elected government of Ukraine.

The fight in eastern Ukraine has become a grinding artillery battle marked by sieges of major cities, the sort of conflict that favors Russia’s much larger military. Without aid from NATO member countries, Ukraine would be in a far worse situation than it is now.

Ukraine has demanded more and more sophisticated weaponry and has voiced frustration that the delivery of heavy weapons already promised by its Western allies has been too slow.

The war in Ukraine has presented a huge challenge to NATO and to the security structure that helped keep the peace on the continent since World War II. The conflict initially laid bare the divisions within the European Union and NATO. But anger over Mr. Putin’s invasion has been a unifying force, though some fissures remain over issues such as NATO’s expansion.

On Wednesday, the defense ministers will have a working dinner on Ukraine with the participation of Ukrainian officials and those of partners, like the European Union,…