The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian military says plans for a counteroffensive have been slowed by a lack of adequate firepower promised by the Western backers of Kiev.
The top officer in Ukraine’s armed forces General Valery Zaluzhny told The Washington Post that for Ukraine’s counteroffensive to progress faster, he needs more — of every weapon.
Zaluzhny said that he is frustrated by the slow deliveries of promised weaponry, including F-16 fighters.
“I do not need 120 planes.” he said.” “I’m not going to threaten the whole world. A very limited number would be enough.”
Zaluzhny said he is telling anyone who will listen, including his American counterpart Mark Milley that he needs those resources now.
“They are needed. Because there is no other way. Because the enemy is using a different generation of aviation,” he said.
“We have an agreement: 24/7, we’re in touch. So, sometimes I can call up and say, ‘If I don’t get 100,000 shells in a week, 1,000 people will die. Step into my shoes,’” he told the Post.
Milley said later on Friday that Ukraine’s counteroffensive was “advancing steadily, deliberately working its way through very difficult minefields.”
He told an audience at the National Press Club in Washington that the US and allies were working hard to supply Ukraine. “We are giving them as much help as humanly possible.”
"Sure, it goes a little slow but that is part of the nature of war," he said. "War on paper and real war are different.”
Ukraine launched a counteroffensive last month to reclaim territory under Russian control. But President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged last week that plans for the counteroffensive had slowed in recent months.
“We stopped because we could not advance,” said the Ukrainian president. “Advancing meant losing people and we had no artillery.”
Zelensky on Saturday accused "some" Western partners of dragging their feet over plans to train Ukrainian pilots to fly fighter jets.
"Do they have an understanding of when Ukraine can get the F-16?" Zelensky told reporters alongside Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, referring to the West.
"There is no schedule of training missions. I believe that some partners are dragging their feet. Why are they doing it? I don't know."
Russia has also described the counteroffensive against its forces as “unsuccessful.”
The US has said it is providing Ukraine with what it needs when it needs it. But leaked US military and intelligence documents previously indicated alarming Ukrainian shortfalls in Western-supplied weaponry — especially ammunition and air defense.
According to information obtained by Washington Post and other news outlets, dating to late February and early March, Ukraine’s “ability to provide medium-range air defense to protect the [front lines] will be completely reduced by May 23. “
A senior Ukrainian official said the leaks had angered Kiev’s military and political leaders, who have sought to conceal vulnerabilities related to ammunition shortages and other battlefield data from Russia over the course of the war.
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