Ukraine needs more weapons and ammunition to be able to carry out a successful counteroffensive against the Russian forces, the deputy head of President Vladimir Zelensky’s office has said.
In an interview with British newspaper The Times on Saturday, Igor Zhovkva was asked why the much-anticipated operation by Ukraine, aimed at retaking land lost to Russia, still hasn’t been launched.
“If you want to start a successful counteroffensive you need everything at your disposal, including artillery, armored vehicles and tanks, so probably we don’t have enough,” he replied.
“More weapons is the No 1 topic in each and every conversation” that Zelensky had during his numerous foreign trips over the past month, Zhovkva, who is also the Ukrainian president’s top foreign affairs adviser, stressed.
“Every country knows what kind of weapons we need from them, to protect our territory, stop the rockets,” the official added.
He also suggested that Russia has intensified its missile and drone campaign across Ukraine in recent months in a bid to deter the offensive by Kiev’s troops, which was expected to begin in spring.
The UK “now is one of the leading countries in showing real incentive and courage in how to really bring victory to my country,” he stated, adding that other nations need to do more to assist Kiev.
“Sorry, but the European countries are still too slow and not doing enough with sanctions” against Russia, Zhovkva insisted.
Zelensky told the Wall Street Journal on Saturday that the Ukrainian military was “ready” for the counteroffensive, but did not say when exactly it will start.
He also pointed out that Kiev would have wanted to see more weapons provided by the West, but that “we can’t wait for months” to launch the assault.
Among other things, Ukraine needs 50 US-made Patriot air defense batteries to sufficiently protect its cities and troops on the battlefield ahead of the counteroffensive, Zelensky said.
With the price of a single Patriot battery estimated at $1.1 billion, the overall cost of the demand would be around $55 billion, which is more than the total amount of American military aid allocated to Kiev since the start of the conflict.
The Ukrainian leader acknowledged that Russia’s air superiority would leave Kiev’s troops exposed and “a large number of soldiers will die” during the counteroffensive.
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Moscow has repeatedly warned that deliveries of weapons, including sophisticated ones, to Ukraine by the US and its allies could cross “red lines,” leading to a major escalation in the hostilities. Russia argues that the provision of arms, intelligence sharing, and training to Kiev’s troops already means that Western nations are de facto parties to the conflict.