| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

Delivery of Western weapons would have led to counteroffensive starting ‘much earlier’, says Zelensky

During an exclusive interview with CNN on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed that the counteroffensive of Ukraine has faced obstacles due to the well-established Russian defenses, causing a slowdown. He further expressed his desire for earlier initiation of the counteroffensive, stating that the delivery of Western weapons could have facilitated that.
Zelensky, while speaking to CNN in Odesa, said that his military cannot “even think of starting” attacks in some areas of the country, because it does not have “the relevant weapons.”

“I’m grateful to the US as the leaders of our support,” he said, adding, “but I told them as well as the European leaders that we would like to start our counteroffensive earlier, and we need all the weapons and materiel for that. Why? Simply because if we start later, it will go slower.”
The Ukrainian leader stated that difficulties faced by the armed soldiers on the battlefield are leading to a “slowed down” counteroffensive.

“I wanted our counteroffensive to happen much earlier because everyone understood that if the counteroffensive unfolds later, then a bigger part of our territory will be mined. We give our enemy the time and possibility to place more mines and prepare their defensive lines,” he added.

‘Ukraine yet to give main push to counteroffensive’
Repeatedly, the Ukrainian officials have said that even though the counteroffensive is underway, they are yet to give it the main push.

Last month, Deputy Minister of Defence Hanna Maliar said that some of its reserves are being held back by Kyiv and that the “main strike” was still ahead.

However, in whatever direction Ukraine opts to attack, time is the enemy, Zelensky said. “The later we start, the more difficult it will be for us,” he added.

The president, repeating what he has done often after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine was launched by Russia in February 2022, appealed to the Western governments to provide more advanced weaponry to Kyiv, like the US-made long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems.
“In some directions, it will give us an opportunity to start the counteroffensive. In some directions, we cannot even think of starting it, as we don’t have the relevant weapons. And throwing our people to be killed by Russian long-range weapons would be simply inhumane,” Zelensky said.

He further reinstated his plea for American-made F-16 fighter jets. The US has allowed its allies to start providing training on those aircraft to Ukrainian pilots but has not permitted allies to re-export those planes to Ukraine.

“It’s not even about the Ukrainian advantage in the sky over the Russians. This is only about being equal. F-16s help not only those on the battlefield to move forward. It is simply very difficult without cover from the air,” Zelensky stated.

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