Zelensky Presses Allies for Weapons Capable of Hitting Russia

Ukrainian servicemen of the 92nd Assault Brigade fire BM-21 ‘Grad’ multiple rocket launcher toward Russian positions, in the Kharkiv region, Wednesday. (Roman Pilipey/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

(Bloomberg News/TNS) — President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Ukraine’s allies to deliver every weapon Kyiv needs to repel Moscow’s troops — with permission to use the systems on targets inside Russian territory.

Speaking as the Kremlin continues a week-long offensive in northeastern Ukraine, Zelensky argued the equipment would effectively be used for defensive purposes as Russia seeks to exploit his country’s shortages of manpower, air defenses and artillery along the 600-mile front line. 

The Ukrainian leader signaled that a failure to send long-range weapons was a matter of Western capitals fretting over engaging President Vladimir Putin’s war machine directly. 

“They would like Ukraine to win in a way that Russia does not lose,” Zelensky told reporters at a briefing in Kyiv on Thursday evening. “Because that would be a loss with unpredictable consequences and unpredictable geopolitics.”

The Ukrainian leader invoked fears among some NATO allies – particularly in the early stages of the war that saw Russian forces to some extent outmaneuvered and beaten back – about a loss of face for the leader of a country with the world’s largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons. 

But the momentum this year has shifted, with Russian forces seizing territory in the eastern Donbas region in addition to a fresh incursion into the Kharkiv region in the northeast.

It took allies more than a year after Russia’s invasion in February 2022 to provide Ukraine with modern tanks. Kyiv has long complained about inadequate supplies of U.S.-made ATACMS long-range rockets. Germany has refused to deliver its Taurus cruise missiles on the grounds that they could be used to strike inside Russia.

“I don’t think it works this way,” Zelensky said. “In order for Ukraine to win, we have to be provided with everything that’s needed for victory.”

In the U.S. — Ukraine’s biggest military backer — lawmakers took six months to approve a $61 billion aid package due as Republicans held up the legislation. Meanwhile, Moscow’s relentless bombardment and drone strikes have decimated Ukraine’s power-generation and distribution infrastructure, destroyed residential buildings and killed dozens of civilians.

“I don’t think that there should be any bans because it is not about a Ukrainian army offensive with Western weapons on Russian territory,” Zelensky said. “It is defense.” 

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