Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has stated that his country needs more time before launching a much-anticipated counter-offensive against Russian soldiers, as its military awaits promised military aid.
The planned offensive might be decisive in the battle, redrawing frontlines that have stayed untouched for months. It will also be a critical test for Ukraine, which is eager to demonstrate that the weapons and equipment provided by the West can result in meaningful combat victories.
President Zelensky described combat brigades, some of which had been trained by Nato countries, as “ready,” but added that the army still required “some things,” including armoured vehicles, which were “arriving in batches.”
“With [what we already have], we can go forward and, I believe, be successful,” he stated in an interview for Eurovision News members such as the BBC. “However, we’d lose a lot of people.” That, in my opinion, is unacceptable. So we need to wait. We still require some further time.”
The timing and location of the Ukrainian push remain unknown. Meanwhile, Russian soldiers have bolstered their positions along a frontline of 900 miles (1,450 kilometers) from the eastern districts of Luhansk and Donetsk to Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south.
Ukrainian authorities have attempted, both publicly and privately, to dampen hopes of a breakthrough. A senior government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said earlier this month that the country’s authorities “understood that [they] needed to be successful,” but that the assault should not be viewed as a “silver bullet” in a war that is already in its 15th month.
The president, however, expressed confidence that the Ukrainian military could advance, warning of the risks of a “frozen conflict” which, he said, was what Russia was “counting on”.
For Kyiv, any outcome that is perceived as disappointing in the West may result in a decline in military backing and more pressure to talk with Russia. With over a quarter of the country under Russian control and President Vladimir Putin recognizing the annexation of four regions partially occupied by his forces, conversations about land concessions are possible.
“Everyone will have an idea,” Zelensky predicted. “[However], they can’t put pressure on Ukraine to give up territory.” Why should any country in the world cede territory to Putin?”
Mr Zelensky dismissed concerns about losing US support if President Joe Biden is not re-elected in 2024, despite his pledge to back Ukraine for as long as it takes. He claimed that Ukraine still had bipartisan backing in the US Congress. “Who knows where we’ll be [when the election happens]?” he asked. “I believe we’ll be able to win by then.”
For the time being, there is no realistic prospect of peace talks, as both sides have stated that they will fight till triumph. President Zelensky has proposed a 10-point peace plan that includes the return of all seized territory, restitution payments for war-related damages, and the establishment of a special tribunal to investigate Russian war crimes, which Moscow has categorically refused.
Western sanctions, the president claimed, were having an effect on Russia’s defense industry, citing decreased missile stocks and artillery shortages. “They still have a lot in their warehouses, but… we can see that they’ve reduced shelling per day in some areas already.”
Moscow, on the other hand, had developed ways to get around some of the sanctions, he said, and he urged countries to pursue individuals who were assisting Russia in getting around the bans.
Mr Zelensky denied yet again that Ukraine was behind an alleged drone strike on the Kremlin last week, which Moscow described as an attempt to assassinate President Putin.
The Ukrainian president said he suspected the apparent attack was a false flag operation carried out by Russia, and that Moscow was using the accusation as a “excuse” to attack his nation.
“They constantly look for something to sound like a justification, saying: ‘You do this to us, so we do that to you,'” President Zelensky said. “But it didn’t work. Even for their domestic public, it didn’t work. Even their own propagandists didn’t believe that. Because it looked very, very artificial.”
The president commented as the Eurovision song contest was being conducted in Liverpool, England, which was chosen to host the event on behalf of Ukraine, who won last year’s competition.
He stated that he would have preferred to have the tournament held in a neighboring country “to where our people could travel and be very close,” but that he had “lots of respect” for Britain, a “amazing country.”
“The main thing is that the contest is taking place,” he explained. “Let the people show off their talent.”
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