Zelensky: “We’re ready for a counterattack…We’ll take casualties, but we strongly believe in success”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday (local time) that the country is ready to launch a counter-offensive against Russia that has been widely speculated to be imminent.

“I strongly believe that we will succeed,” Mr. Zelensky said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in the southern port city of Odessa.

“I don’t know how long it will take,” he added, noting that “to be honest, it can go in completely different, different ways.”

Ukraine is trying to turn the tide with a major counteroffensive in a war that has raged since Russia invaded in February last year. In recent weeks, it has stepped up its offensive against Russian ammunition depots and supply routes.

For some time, muddy ground caused by the spring thaw and delays in Western arms shipments to Ukraine have slowed the Ukrainian offensive, but recent ground consolidation and reinforcements have created the conditions for a major counteroffensive, according to analysts.

Ukrainian soldiers in training.
[AFP Yonhap].

Late last month, President Zelensky hinted at an imminent counter-offensive, saying that Ukrainian forces had decided when to advance.

On the same day, Zelensky acknowledged that Russian air power was stronger on the front line, which meant that “many soldiers will die” in the counter-offensive.

He said he wanted to see more Western-supplied weapons in the counter-offensive, but emphasized that Ukraine was still ready to move.

“We want to have certain things, but we can’t wait for months,” he said, adding that Ukraine is ready to launch a counter-offensive.

The WSJ interpreted this as Zelensky tempering the prospect of a successful counterattack with a warning that it would “take some time and cost a lot of money.

“If we don’t stand up to Russia, those beasts will take another step forward with an even greater appetite for conquest,” Zelensky said.

Patriot air defense missile battery
[AFP Yonhap].

Zelensky also thanked Western countries for their military assistance, but called for faster and larger-scale deliveries, saying that the delayed deliveries were causing more casualties.

“Patriot air defense batteries are the only system capable of intercepting advanced missiles fired from Russia,” he said, adding that up to 50 Patriot batteries, consisting of launchers, radars, and other equipment, are needed to defend their cities and frontline towns.

Currently, Ukraine is believed to operate at least 메이저사이트two Patriot batteries.

Regarding the long-awaited North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership, he said, “Some members do not want to recognize Ukraine because of their fear of Russia.”

Regarding the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next month, he said, “We don’t expect to join while the fighting continues, but we want to be promised that we will be accepted as a member if the war ends.” “If that signal is not given in Vilnius, there is no point for Ukraine to attend the summit,” he said.

President Zelensky with U.S. President Joe Biden
[UPI Yonhap].

Turning to President Vladimir Putin, he said, “My people will not shake hands with Putin, he will no longer sit at the same table with major countries, and he will have to realize that Russia is no longer a member of international organizations.”

Zelensky expressed concern about the 2024 U.S. presidential election. Incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden has announced his re-election bid, and former President Donald Trump has thrown his hat into the ring.

“When you have the support that you have, you’re naturally afraid of change,” he said. “To be honest, I feel the same way as everyone else when it comes to regime change (in the US). I hope it’s for the better, but it could be the other way around.”

Regarding President Trump’s recent comments on CNN that if he were re-elected, “the war would be over within 24 hours,” Zelensky called it “incomprehensible,” adding that “Biden has an emotional attachment to Ukraine, but I’m not sure how he would have acted in the case of Trump.”

Former US President Donald Trump

Still, Zelensky said he is encouraged by the bipartisan support for Ukraine in the U.S. “I hope that both parties and Congress will continue to support Ukraine and press for the flow of support to continue, no matter what administration comes in,” he said.

“China is a much bigger and stronger country than Russia,” he said, appealing to it to play an important role in bringing about peace.

“I don’t expect a country like China to just stand by and watch people die,” Mr. Zelensky said, adding that “this is a real bloody war.”

The WSJ explained that Zelensky was interviewed earlier in the day after encouraging wounded soldiers at a government building. Wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with the Ukrainian flag, he was asked how he could keep his fighting spirit up, to which he replied, “We can’t afford to be weak.”


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