Western aid to Ukraine too slow, Zelenskiy says


Ukraine needs more F-16s to resist Russia’s aerial attacks, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says.
Ukraine needs more F-16s to resist Russia’s aerial attacks, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says.

Western allies are taking too long to make key decisions on military support for Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says.

Clearly frustrated during an exclusive interview with Reuters in Kyiv on Monday, Zelenskiy described the delivery of the aid, in particular of air defences like the Patriot systems which Ukraine relies on heavily in its war with Russia, as “one big step forward, but before that, two steps back.”

“Every decision to which we, then later everyone together, comes to is late by around one year,” he said, wearing his trademark khaki T-shirt and trousers and raising his voice at times.

Russia Ukraine War
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy expressed frustration at the West’s dragging its feet to arm Ukraine. (AP PHOTO)

His tough remarks come at a perilous time for his forces, which are outnumbered and outgunned by Moscow’s army and losing territory in the northeast and east of the country.

Zelenskiy suggested ways in which allies could help more directly, including by shooting down Russian missiles over Ukrainian territory in certain circumstances.

“Russians are using 300 planes on the territory of Ukraine,” he said.

“We need at least 120, 130 planes to resist in the sky,” Zelenskiy added, referring to US-designed F-16s, some of which he hopes will be used in combat soon.

“You can’t provide that right now? OK … returning to the planes that you have on the territory of neighbouring NATO countries: raise them up … shoot down targets, protect civilians.”

“Can they do this? I’m sure that yes. Is this an attack by NATO countries, involvement? No.”

The Ukrainian leader also said Kyiv was negotiating with international partners to use their weapons to strike Russian military hardware at the border and further inside Russian territory.

Ukraine Russia War
Ukraine’s forces outnumbered and outgunned by Russia and losing territory in the northeast and east. (AP PHOTO)

“So far, there is nothing positive,” he said.

The United States has resisted Ukrainian calls to use its missiles against internationally recognised Russian territory, reflecting concerns in the West about the risk of escalation while also seeking to ensure Kyiv emerges victorious.

According to the 46-year-old, the battlefield situation in the northeast of the country is now under control, after Moscow’s forces crossed the border and launched incursions towards the city of Kharkiv.

He said that the world should not forget that Russia was also pushing hard in the east as well. Ukraine’s forces are already stretched thin along the more than 1000-km long front lines, but it would take time to prepare new recruits under a new mobilisation drive for battle, Zelenskiy said.

Elsewhere, the Russian military said it had taken full control of the settlement of Bilohorivka in Ukraine’s Luhansk region while the Kyiv military said fighting was going on in the area.

The Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement its forces had taken up better positions in the area.

Ukraine’s General Staff, in its late evening report on Facebook, said fighting was going on around Bilohorivka and added that Ukrainian forces had repelled three attacks in the nearby Siversk sector.

Earlier, the General Staff said Kyiv’s troops “have been holding back” Russian attacks near the village.

The Russian Defence Ministry added it had also been involved in fierce clashes in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region near Vovchansk, Starytsia and Hlyboke where it said troops had repelled two counter-attacks.