Ukraine needs “powerful and long-range weapons” — fighter jets, in other words — because Russia’s air superiority over the battlefield has allowed them to “stop our counteroffensive”, President Zelensky said.
Russia is denying air superiority to Ukraine and using that to “stop” the counteroffensive, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday, the latest in a line of remarks addressing the difficulty the Western-armed Ukrainian army has had this year turning back the tide of the Russian occupation.
Speaking at a conference in Kyiv on Friday, Zelensky said Ukraine needed “powerful and long-range” because: “We are not in the sky and Russia is, they stop us from the sky. They stop our counteroffensive”, reports Le Figaro.
Zelensky also accused Western powers of hypocrisy in their urging Ukraine to fight faster, when they themselves — in his view — acted too slowly to support the invaded nation. He continued: ” They stop our counteroffensive. The war is complicated, some processes are complicated, and many things have been slowed down. When some allies say: ‘What about the counter-offensive? When will the next step be?’. My answer is that today, our steps are coming faster than [the West’s] new sanctions packages.”
Western support to Ukraine, including the deliveries of weapons and new sanctions against Russia, is becoming more “complicated and slower”, he said, and this was having an impact on the conflict itself. He said on Friday: “The war is slowing down. This is true, we recognise this. All the processes are becoming harder and slowing down: from sanctions to the delivery of weapons.”
The comments are not the first of their sort for Zelensky, who has made several — sometimes testy — remarks on the state of the counter-offensive. In June, the President acknowledged things were going “slower than desired” and blamed a diet of Hollywood war movies for some in the West for unrealistic expectations of how fast a war could be won. The tone of these remarks was picked up just this month by the Ukrainian foreign secretary who told critics of the nation’s execution of the counteroffensive to “shut up” and see if they could do better.
These remarks have often been accompanied by repeated calls for further military equipment, particularly the American-made F-16 jet fighters Ukraine believe will be able to sweep the Russian airforce from the sky.
Training of Ukrainian pilots to fly the machines has now actually begun, with dozens of aircraft promised by a group of three European nations. Yet this is not enough, Kyiv says, with advisor to President Zelensky’s Presidential Office Mykhailo Podolyak saying other allies should also hand over their inventories to demonstrate their dedication to “international law, democracy and justice”, achieved through the defeat of Russia.