The Russia-Ukraine crisis is unlikely to wear off anytime soon. Last week, Moscow-backed separatist forces launched an offensive in Marinka, which is just ten miles from the separatists’ capital of Donetsk. Though Ukrainian army repelled the attack, separatists have renewed their offensive in eastern Ukraine, violating the Minsk ceasefire agreement reached in February.

Russia-Ukraine Conflict May Last Decades: Ex-NATO Chief

West should supply lethal arms to Ukraine

Former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that the conflict could last decades. In an interview with CNBC, Rasmussen said that the Western countries should consider arming Ukraine to thwart Russian aggression. The U.S. is supplying only non-lethal aid to Kiev, though Obama administration has been considering to supply lethal weapons for months.

Rasmussen believes that the conflict in Ukraine and subsequent annexation of Crimea are “part of a bigger Russian master plan.” He led the Western military alliance between 2009 and 2014. Rasmussen said Moscow continues to destabilize Ukraine. Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops along the Russian-Ukrainian border, and is actively operating within Ukraine, he claimed.

While Western countries have been looking for a peaceful political solution to the crisis, the Kremlin is looking for a military solution. And that’s why they continue to destabilize Ukraine, said the former NATO head. It’s time Western powers should start sending lethal weapons to Ukrainians to help them defend themselves. Pro-Russian separatists, allegedly sponsored by Moscow, continue to fight Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine.

Russia trying to regain its Soviet-era glory

On Monday, President Barack Obama said that the G-7 countries will continue sanctions against Russia, even though some European countries fear retaliation. Rasmussen says Moscow is deliberately destabilizing the region to resurrect the country’s Soviet-era sphere of influence. To achieve that objective, Moscow wants to keep its neighbors weak and prevent them from integrating with NATO or the European Union.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has tried to quell fears of a major conflict. In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, he said that only a “sick person” would imagine a conflict between Russia and NATO.